More than 30 manuscripts and photographs that belonged to painter Stefan Luchian are up for sale and will be auctioned off by the Goldart Auction House in a single session at Marshal Garden Hotel Bucharest, April 24, 6.00 pm. According to a press release, the letters represent Stefan Luchian’s 1898-1899 correspondence with Cecilia I. Vasilescu, his friend and learner from Alexandria, with whom he hoped to get married. In order to give this special evening its due, the letters will be read by actor Ion Caramitru, the session special guest. The cultural and social references of these letters are manifold, as they include details about the first signs of the painter’s disease and how it affected his work, his losing the house on Kiseleff Road, student life etc.
There are also many references about significant dates to his activity as a painter such as the April 4, 1899 joint exhibition with Nicolae Vermont at the Romanian Athenaeum, and its postponement until ‘today, May 12”, and his intention of creating some work for the universal exhibition, despite his debilitating disease. (“I may go into a hospital, since I’m too ill, although I haven’t complaint to anybody”), the finishing of the Tulcea Cathedral (“you know this work has been in progress since 1897, two years namely, and it wouldn’t be fair not to finish it at long last”).A letter entitled “A Painting Lesson” and signed Lukian, reveals Luchian, the “symbolist”, who sought to express the sublime in painting. “A painting doesn’t mean is done when it’s dressed up, polished, clean or exhibit ready, but when the soulful side of the composition is well chosen, when the artist felt (….) was able to catch the sublime, the faith without which a work of act cannot survive time…”This Goldart auction also offers a work by Stefan Luchian, emblematic for the interval 1897-1899, which could be seen as related to Cecilia Ionescu-Vasilescu.
Some identified Cecilia as the central front-facing character, if compared to her two 1935 photographs also up for auction, yet auction organizers suggest it is the profile figure that would rather have the features of Luchian’s lover. The oil on canvas with the red-brown signature Luchian (1897-1899) was part of the Bujor Teculescu collection, Brasov, a major private collection. The painting has a backside holograph authentication by painter J. Al. Steriadi, with the following text: “Decorative Board. Two young girls against pink backdrop, oil on canvas, (signed) left side down, genuine by St. Luchian, J. Al. Steriadi, 18.XII. 949”. The work was part of the Luchian – Vermont Exhibition, 1899, no 89.Goldart also presents a few rare photographs from Samuel Mutzner’s family, representing the artists and his wife, Rodica Maniu, in various poses, as well as many manuscripts signed by significant Romanian culture figures.