4.7.12

Letters, manuscripts, scores...



There is a rather discrete Paris museum (one of 140), more or less hidden behind this entrance (222, boulevard Saint-Germain), the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts.


Hundreds of original documents are visible, others hidden, but multimedia points all over the place allow further access and explanations. As photos without flash were allowed, I took a few. (Not always easy - glass covered documents, reflections...)

The top picture is part of Einstein’s calculations of relativity (… or the God’s equation?)

There are of course some French Royal documents, including these ones by François I and Catherine de Medici.

There is some kind of “testament” that Louis XVI wrote the day before he tried the escape which was stopped at Varennes and a letter by Marie Antoinette where she defends herself from the “Affair of the Necklace”.

… and a letter by Doctor Guillotin, the man indirectly responsible for their beheading….

… a letter from the future Napoleon, addressed to Josephine, with a  lot of erasures, signed by his initials, Napoleon Bonaparte.

You find a number of documents by more recent statesmen, e.g. Georges Clemenceau…

… Charles de Gaulle.

Some “souvenirs” from WWII, like letters written and sent from Auschwitz, a decoding (Enigma) machine, a telegram signed Rommel…

.. a letter by Churchill, and the by Eisenhower signed telegram that “The mission of the Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7th, 1945.”

Two Italian letters: One by Casanova, one by Vasari, Renaissance painter, but better known as maybe the world’s first art historian and critic.

You will of course find a lot of scientific documents. Here are two volumes (of the total of 17) of the those days’ controversial “Encyclopedia”, which was published by Diderot and D’Alembert between 1751 and 1772, part of the “Enlightenment”, which led to… a lot.

Here are some documents where we can see how Newton made his divisions, how Montgolfier planned his balloon, how Linnaeus (Linné) classified flowers…

… some drawings by Edison…

… and again some Einstein documents.

Do we classify Freud among the scientists?

Of course authors are very present, here some samples by Molière, Racine, La Fontaine…

… Chateaubriand, de Maupassant…

… Victor Hugo…

… Verlaine, Proust, Saint-Exupéry… 
 … a Hemingway manuscript, letters by Jack London and Mark Twain (his real name was Samuel Langhorn Clemens).

There was a temporary exhibition on Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" and the original manuscript scroll could be seen. 
  
Of course one finds also documents linked to art - letters by Rubens, van Gogh…

… Monet, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin…

… and a letter by Frida Kahlo – with some kisses - where she aks for a delay of a Diego Rivera exhibition.

Among composers, we can find letters and scores by Bach, Mozart…

… Beethoven (definitely in need of deciphering), Schubert…

… Verdi, Liszt.

There is the storyboard by Hitchcock for the film “Stage Fright”.

Several documents referred to “Titanic” including a telegram from the White Star Line to a US senator, where they – immediately after the accident – assured that all passengers were safe...  with the possible idea of a last minute change of the insurance value.

... and there is a lot more! :-)

21 comments:

Virginia said...

Peter,
Your posts are always so timely for me. Just this week, a friend that travels often to Paris was telling me that I should put this museum on my list. Parfait!
V

Olivier said...

cela devait etre emouvant de voir les lettres manuscrites de ces grands hommes

Starman said...

Fascinating! One could spend days perusing all the goodies in this place.

Dianne said...

An amazing collection Peter ... I would love to read some of those letters but if allowed only one ... It would be Van Gogh's letter ... I wonder who it's to & what it's about.
And Napoleons letter to Josephine would be a wonderful read.

Studio at the Farm said...

What a fascinating museum, Peter. I could get lost in those manuscripts. And, somehow,it is reassuring to see that even Einstein could make the odd mistake. :)

helen tilston said...

Hello Peter

What an incredible museum. Were you mesmerized at such wondrous pieces of history. Just looking at these brought shivers. Thank you for sharing

Helen xx

Anonymous said...

Every time I read Napoleon*s early
letters to Josephine...I blush, blush, blush...
Fantastic post!
I love it!
Maria

quiltmom said...

What an interesting place- all those signatures and materials from such a wide cross section of people. You could spend many days exploring the writings.
Thanks for sharing.
Regards from Western Canada,
Anna

Catherine said...

Wow what a fascinating place and so interesting to see all those letters and manuscripts - love that on the road scroll and frida's letters plus the old typewriters - these are truly treasures from the past that won't be left ever again by the present technological generation of writers etc....

claude said...

J'en reste baba !
Très impressionnants tous ces écrits. Quel endroit intéressant !
Merci pour cette fantastique découverte !

Synne said...

Oh my goodness, this place seems so ME it is almost overwhelming. I always spend hours in museums like this, but I had never heard of this particular one... I absolutely love this post. Thank you!

Cergie said...

Kerouac > ce n'est pas son tapuscrit de "Sur la route" que je cois qu'on peut le voir somewhere en ce moment à Paris.
Lorsque j'ai rangé les affaires de ma tante après son décès j'ai retrouvé une lettre de ma grand-mère que j'ai donné à mon autre tante, elle a été si contente ! On est beaucoup dans la façon dont on écrit.

Cergie said...

(Pardon mon français n'est pas top, trop de "que")

M said...

Fascinating ... Must go there next time!

joanny said...

What a brilliantly witty, lively, scintillating, conversational photographic montage.

joanny

lasiate said...

Il est vrai que Guillotin a eu des relations rapprochées ;) avec le couple Bourbon. Je crois même qu'ils en ont perdu la tête

Mona said...

Interesting post. For all that you hear about Van Gogh , his handwriting seems pretty stable. Frieda's letter looks interesting :)

Thanks for posting these!

Honest Abe said...

I enjoyed the signatures. The styles of writing are so different.

arabesque said...

this is in along the 6th right?
yup, remember you mentioning this one the last time we were there.

ohma said...

Now i saw the Frida Khalo´s letter, my idol, so I want to thank you.
Thanks for visit my blog too.
Regards.

Louise said...

Wow, this looks such an amazing museum to visit- it's gone straight on to the wishlist for next year.