December 28, 2019 0

Handwriting Is Not Dead: um bate-papo com o colecionador Pedro Corrêa do Lago (Legendado)


Good evening, everyone! I’m Colin Bailey,
Director of the Morgan Library and Museum. It’s a pleasure to welcome all for a conversation between Pedro Corrêa do Lago and Christine Nelson, and too thee first. If you like unveiling of
“The Magic of Handwriting”, exhibition … over, upon 140 items selected from the capacious collection that Pedro has established,
or has been establishing, since he was 12 years old. «Il ne faut pas toucher aux idoles, la dorure en reste aux mains.» “We should not touch our idols, but gilding will remain on our hands”. This is a comment that appears in Madame Bovary by Flaubert, and of course, there is a
Flaubert manuscript in the exhibition:
a letter to Hugo from the… from June 1869, and Flaubert’s comment which resonates for me, in a way sets up the possible disappointment of actually
meeting your idol, of getting too close to your idol of touching something that you have
venerated and admired. In this exhibition, we have
an opportunity to get very, very close! No touching!
But very very close! to a series of marvelous men and women:
artists, writers, historians, creators whose thoughts, ideas, comm… intimate comments, photographs allow us a glimpse into the creative life, and this is the exhibition that Pedro has made possible, and that Christine has been working on
very diligently for the past several months. The exhibition is in six, or seven sections. Its design is for us quite innovative. We share the pleasure of the same designer as the Olympics in Brazil, and we’re very grateful! We’re very grateful to… to Daniela Thomas, and Felipe Tassara
of T+T Projectos, and the graphic designers
Fábio Prata and Flávia Nalon. You will be able to see the exhibition which will remain open for an hour
after the conversation that will take place. We’re, we are in a Digital Age:
handwriting may be dead, but it is a pleasure to look at works made by hand, and in this regard, Pedro shares the passion of
our founder John Pierpont Morgan who as a young man began to collect autographs. Pedro too, at the age of 12, sent letters
to prominent people soliciting their autographs. François Truffaut said “Yes”.
He will tell us about some of the people who said “No”, but rather than focusing on a single figure then Pedro began to enlarge his collection to cover
the scope of creativity, simply spoke, simply said, in Western Culture, and the results, the sampling of the results, are upstairs This is the first major exhibition in …
in America of his collection. The Project has a long life! Began under my predecessor Bill Griswold
was moved forward energetically by Peggy Fogelman, and the selection initially made by Declan Kiley,
who was our Head of Literary & Historical Manuscripts. (We’ve lost him to the New York Public Library).
Having created this corpus of works, Christine Nelson,
Drue Heinz Curator of Literary Manuscripts, worked tirelessly with Pedro to refine the selection, to make some additions, and
suggestions, and to create what is a really illuminating. And display upstairs, no less illuminating, are the pithy introductions, and the
erudite explanations of the documents on hand, and we’re very very proud as well that
Taschen Publishers will be produced… are producing, a catalog
that will be a permanent record of this exhibition. Before inviting Pedro and Christine to the podium, I want to recognize the support of the Dillon Fund, whom have made a major gift
in memory of Douglas Dillon. Mr. Dillon was a fellow of the Morgan from 1952, and served for 32 years
on the Morgan’s Board of Trustees, and it’s very touching to us that the Dillon Foundation
is supporting this show so generously! I also want to mention: Patricia and Antonio Bonchristiano, Levy & Salomão Advogados, Pictet North America, Galeria Almeida and Dale, Susan Tane, and Ruy e Silva. Please, join me now
in welcoming Pedro and Christine in a conversation that tell, will tell us that:
“Handwriting is Not Dead”. Thank you, very much! [ ✍ Transcription and sync of subtitles in progress.
Spelling and typing errors will be fixed soon. ✍ ] First of all, welcome to the Morgan,
Pedro! Thank you, thank you very much! I want to join Colin, thank you so
much for sharing your collection with us here! [ . . . ] It’s a privilege for me! . . . must . . . last week . . . I would . . . . … at home here in the company of Pierpont Morgan, a predecessor of yours as a great autograph collector. So! We just as you know finished installing the exhibition yesterday it looks absolutely magnificent. … greatfull contribution … …the very modest! And we do hope that you forgive us for installing your great Proust manuscript upside down. Yes, … side! Yes, … side! So you could have chosen … me! Yes! … A friends mentioned to me . . . earlier . . . when I . . . Wow! Very good! Very good for me. So again! Thank you for all that you have done to bring us to this moment! Thank you! Thank You, Christine! I mean, this is the
future book that Colin mentioned that will be published by Taschen. We have here the proof and it was written by Christine, and I’m very grateful for one …! To the great clever . . . . Thank you! So I’d like to start by talking about our title [ . . . ] [ . . . ] So! “The Magic of Handwriting”, as I understand it, since I came to this Project, a little bit late, is a title that you suggested and that we enthusiastically embraced. Is that correct? Yes! I mean… I… I… I mean, there were famous collectors of course that we like to recollect, and Goethe was one of them, but Stefan Zweig is the one that had the
approach that I feel more akin to you know because I mean, … words. I mean, I have many reasons to like Zweig and I like his writing. I like that, of course, he performed an extraordinary collection
of what I call “The Aristocracy of the Manuscripts” which are the men, the documents of creation, and the pieces of paper that have received the inspiration directly in drafts or … like mostly… Like the Proust manuscript. Exactly! Like the Proust manuscript, or like a several others in the exhibition. Not many! I am not recollected mostly these. He was very successful in selling his biographies. So he had a lot more means, and it was easier to find these things both of them are in museums today, and then he eventually committed suicide in my country, so I feel particularly close to him, and as he claimed Goethe as an ancestor as collector, and I claim him in us in a very modest way, but in the sense that I really wanted to pay homage to, I mean, he wrote beautifully about autographs unfortunately I don’t read German that …
well, so I can’t … So “The Magic of Handwriting”, as you said, so often, is a sentence in a letter to Rilke where he said that thanks to his collection, or his love of manuscripts he discovered “The Magic of Handwriting”, and that’s what it’s all about, I mean, for private collectors, but I hope for the public as… Well, you know! looking at the exact … I mean, the very documents that carry a
message in the hand of a person I mean, for a collector it’s the closest link
you can establish with someone who predecedes [precedes] your birth by many sometimes centuries, and whom you admire. I mean, you are holding a piece of paper
that they also held in their hands the more … more important the content of
course the more important the moment for that person sometimes they so deep
personal problems with a letter, or sometimes it’s a love letter, sometimes
it’s a tragic letter, but you hold emotions, and you… It’s I feel much closer to the person once I owned a letter of them I read more about them, so it’s a pursuit that had enhanced my life in many many ways, and the source of innumerable small and great joys. So you think . . . Stefan Zweig to given us . . . ? Yes! [ . . . ] And so for you what is magical about
handwriting is that sense of intimacy with these figures from the past it’s
not so much about the magic of unlocking the secret personality of these? No, no! I don’t believe in graphology fences, and… and it’s not that much the hand of me I find
beauty many handwriting that our parents would find “terrible’s cross”. Nah-paw-lee-on! … Nah-pole-lee-on! Nah-pole…! You can find something, but no! It’s … it’s basically, of course, the content that makes me … because people of the 19th Century had to sit at their tables every day, I mean, a man like
Victor Hugo, or Longfellow would write 50 messages a day: “I cannot go”, “I can go”,
“Please, come for dinner” and “… this book” Do that not what you’re after that’s? . . . what I’m after. but some… for some very rare individuals, sometimes you have to content yourself with a minor item. I’ve tried to select the ones
that are less minor for the exhibition. Well! Behind us of course is one of the
major . . . Major. Yes! . . . start by looking at a few of the items that people will be able to see after our talk just to give a sense of the range of your collection, and I’d
love to look at them with you and have you . . . and tell us about them, and tell us
really what you find a magical about them so I know you’ll know at a glance
what’s right behind. Well, I mean: Van Gogh of courses everybody’s favorite … and then his letters are very rare in the market. It took me many years to be able to
afford one and… I mean! I don’t even know yet how I paid for him an installment
over two years. I mean! But this was a letter that conquered me entirely,
because of course when it was first sold 50 or 60 years ago you didn’t reach a
very high price because I think people didn’t think much of it because it’s
within two months before his death and it seemed like a rather trivial letter
written to the innkeeper in … where he had lived for several years, asking them
to send the remaining things that he had there, but by doing thing, and this was
letter was then bought by very famous dealer who also described it in his
catalog, in my opinion, missing the point, and … and basically it’s an
incredibly moving letter because, by saying, what he wants in Paris, and what
the innkeeper’s can keep he draws an inventory of his own room in … which is
arguably the most famous room in Western Painting today . Which is in everybody’s retina. You say that “retina”? How do you pronounce the word “retina”? Retina. “Retina”. Yes! So, I think… you know! It ends up giving an extraordinary side to this … to this item
that is not immediately pers… persuaded. Right! The words are very ordinary on. The words are ordinary . . . . . . be “my mattress” … “take a straw out” Yeah, yeah! But it also it’s quite moving, because he was so poor that he asked the mattresses to be sent, I mean, by the slowest possible train, but
please empty them of the straw, because replacing the straw will be less
expensive than paying the… the… the way of this the weight of the straw which is
quite moving that this is a very small economy is it . . . So here we have an 1889, Van Gogh leaving the asylum deciding to move North, telling Ginoux that
he hasn’t been well, but he’s completely recovered [ . . . ] So, part of the poignancy of course is that we know the end of the story, and we know that even though he
was claiming to be… Yes! That… this is the “caratteristica” that someone pointed and you pointed as… Well! …. of several items in this exhibition there are written approaching death, let’s say. I mean, or in the last few months, or weeks, or
sometimes days of the people’s lifes. You know! I think, I mean, these items move me
especially because we… we… we were private of the secret they weren’t important, and we
know they’re about to die, and they don’t you know. So! It’s… it’s quite moving to . . . How you can look at to Van Gogh . . . I hope . . . and . . . exhibition . . . you’ll notice some of these connections,
some more subtle than others items juxtaposed with related items, and here
in the exhibition you’ll see this letter . . . tell us about now . . . Van Gogh . . . Well, this of course is that what I called “The Dream Letter”. Yes! You know because! I mean, Gauguin says: “I had to change my plans. I was planning to stay one year in the South of France, working next to a friend who also painter, and unfortunately this friend
became completely mad, and I had to fear during the month, an… an… an accident tragic, or cruel, or… or fatal accident”. So, he really feared for his life at that moment, and letters of Gauguin referring to the famous episode of Van Gogh are almost
non-existent, and that’s mostly you want to Gauguin to speak about his own work
or, if not… you know! mention his most famous friendship: so, this is the letter that always moved me I missed it the first time [ . . . ? ] … it was auctioned… Yes. I mean, I couldn’t afford it, and the second time around I made a crazy move and I bought it . . . ten years later. [ . . .you’re greatful . . . ] Oh, really? . . . much very . . . … but it will be very soon. [ . . . become that… ] So, this is just weeks after Van Gogh . . . break down, and you . . . after years Is January … Yeah! Exactly. after . . . immediate proximity to accident. So really an extraordinary . . . . Yeah! that’s what we look for in… in a document like this, you know! I mean, not only I moved of course because I had my Gauguin deeply, and he also speaks of his own work in very expressive words, but… you know! I mean, he we’re thinking of this friend and… and now, you know! You feel like you’re sort
of “second and secret addressee” of the letter, you know! I mean, which of course
was not meant for you, you know! but it’s now you’re in your hands. Well! Please, introduce this one. Yours country’s men . . . handwriting is a very childish! . . . signed “Ernie” . . . That is: Ernie Hemingway. He is . . . about twelve, Pedro? Yes! I think so. So he’s writing letter to “Dear Daddy”, that I’m just I’m actually gonna try to read it. Yes. “Dear Daddy, I feel a lot better when all my
work is done, and my conscience is clear. I looked up in my baseball schedule, and
found that the New York Giants play Chicago” [ . . . Chicago Cubs] “for the championship on Saturday, May 11th …” [of course, the championship was May 11th . . . probably . . .Champions League.] Next Saturday. “…and we’ll have choir rehearsal in the morning, and the afternoon will be … will be free!” “The game starts at 3 o’clock. Let’s see if we can’t go. It will be a dandy game. The last of the series.” “Yours Lovingly, Ernie.
Good night! God bless you, Daddy!” And then, I’m not sure what’s going on here: “Toosies!” “Toosies”. . . “Toosies” I don’t know.
It’s a round thing! . . theory . . . please . . . after the conversation. For me? Tootsie Rolls? Yep! . . . because stadium? . . . Ok! That’s a good theory! Oh, thank you! One hundred that!
One hundred that! But again this is in the category of the Van Gogh where, you know. We … here we have Hemingway, as a boy, Not … He known will become in Hemingway. He doesn’t. He known will become in Ernest , or Ernie Hemingway. by the way, I … I don’t know if you agree with me, but I assumed when he writes that he’s writing from the Pullman sleeper that he’s joking, but he’s really in his own bed. Yes, most probably! Yes. Though there are always mysteries left. In letter . . . … the people who wrote them, and then we have to try and interpret the private jokes. Exactly! Well! We were very selections that
you made with us for the exhibition that you made a lot of nods to previous
projects here at the Morgan. So the Hemingway’s exhibition curated by my former colleague Declan Kiley. I thank you for including some Saint-Exupéry! Yes! In homage to you. In homage to you. Well! . . . In homage to Colin. Very good! Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde
all of these people we featured in Morgan. No, I mean, you can imagine! I mean, for a
boy of 17 who first came to New York, and came to the Morgan, and . . . manuscripts by Mozart, letters of Wilde and Dickens. . . . and completely… I mean, I was entering a “Sacred Temple”, you know! And so, for me it’s a… an incredible privilege to be
exhibiting this collection here. It’s a perfect place for us. So alongside Hemingway’s letter I know you can’t very welcome there, but I wanted to show you the sheet in its entirety. We
now move to grown-up Hemingway. [Yes.] So you acquired a whole collection of these
forms from the British Who’s Who… [Yes!] . . . by hand. By hand. Yes! And the people whom . . . I mean, I don’t know if you are familiar with the idea of Who’s Who, but it was a large reference book, that would bring the biographies … . . . … the biographies of the most notable living people together, also their addresses, and it was a reference book, and the first one was invented in England, at the end of the 19th Century, and it was… it worked… and it was a profitable business
for over a hundred years, and then in the early 2000s it was bought by a very
large publishing house, and in one of those managerial decisions that are
available they decided to get rid of the archive, you know! which occupied two rooms
outside London. I acquired a very small portion. You know! I mean, because they
wanted it to go to an institution. You know! but they wanted to sell it and
institutions were all ready to receive it because it was an interesting archive,
but not by paying for it. So I offered to pay half of the price for one percent of
the forms. Some relatives of mine say: “You’re crazy! You… you’re doing pay(ment), you getting 1 % for ha(lf), 50 % ?”, then look I don’t want the rest. I had an incredible
impression of “sic transit gloria mundi” you know how fame is fleeting by going
through 200,000 forms in one month. I mean, a friend of mine who was there said:
“Pedro, what wouldn’t you do for autographs?” You know! but then I went
through the whole thing, you know! and there were countless,
barrister-at-law, headmaster, headmistress: who are completely forgotten today, you know!
Who were important people in there and suddenly you see Sigmund Freud’s form
filled in his own hand, or James Joyce’s well you know! So at the end I was able
to get separate about 18-hundred that are fantastic! Because they’re like an
autobiography, you know! and people were asked about the present position. So
Charles de Gaulle and 42 is asked about his present position is “a Leader of the
Free French [France]” which is . . . You know! It’s very moving, of
course, and many others, you know. And Joyce. Really will you see Joyce? Or perhaps …? we see
Joyce addressing issues and present position: We want here. Will see Joyce . . . Will see Joyce at exhibition. And “Present Position”: “Teacher of the Scuola Superiore di Commercio, Trieste: and writer” . Writer as . . . to box. You know! So… and this… . . . and Hemingway approached this with a little bit of snark, I would say. Yeah! Exactly! So when asked about his Career he just wrote: “yes” “yes, yes”. Birth and Parentage:
“yes”. “Yes!” It’s very wrong . . . When . . . detail now . . . a lot of people who filled these out got a little bit
creative in the section where they were invited so you list there “Recreations”. Yes! Ezra Pound wrote: “Searching The Times for proofs of almost total stupidity”. You know: “Complete stupidity yours”. . . . is “Recreation”. It’s a good exercise! So here Heminway . . . his “Recreations”: “Shooting and drinking” … Together very well . . . OK! . . . structure of this document. Yes! Well, It’s moving! And this . . . something with look that this now
. . . or not so much Who’s Who forms, by certainly Gauguin, Van Gogh letters, or really private documents that take a . . . intimate moments, and the people’s lifes, or this one which is covered with the handwriting of leaders of the Cuban Revolution: Castro! Che! Cienfuegos and others! commemorates a very intimate form a very public moment. Yes! It’s true. What’s… What’s really struck me about
this. So do you want to tell us what it…? Yes! Well, this… this is basically a letter
of introduction signed by the former president of Costa Rica. Pepe Figueres, as he was known, who was a Lib… I mean, a Liberal leader, and of course a leftist leader.
It’s considered leftist by the United States at least. He had just left the presidency of Costa Rica, and he recommends a journalist to the people… He didn’t know that the Revolution! Perhaps he knew already by… by the second that the Revolution was … . . . ? Yeah! Yet… So the guy used the pa(per)… the letter of introduction, not as a letter of introduction, but as a sort of answer
to the… he will give it back to Pepe Figueres. So Castro, and Che Guevara, and
all the the leaders…Right! on the following day, or the two following days of the victory of Revolution, which the day in Cuba is like the birth of Christ.
I mean, History didn’t exist before. You know. So… Castro got the year wrong. Yeah! He got the year wrong,
because we didn’t realize he was already . . . . . . Yeah! Anyway! I mean, this is quite
momentous you know because these people were writing. I mean, this salutes to… to
the president of Costa Rica in a… in a moment of great joy. So this journalist was carrying this letter of introduction around… Yeah! … as he met all of these revolutionary leaders in the moment of their victory… Exactly! Ends up creating a sort of “autographed book” . . . I’ve never seen… I’ve never seen one
item . . . the signatures of Cienfuegos, who died very young immediately thereafter. He’s on the back here. Yeah! He’s on the back here. He was probably the third most important
leader, Che and Castro together. Something completely different. Well! This is math by the greatest mathematician ever… probably: Isaac Newton. Math that we can understand, because it’s basically addition. So… This is something I particularly like. I liked your interpretation! Simple math by the father… of the calculus By the father of the calculus . . . everything. I was the worst student in Mathematics. This feeling I was good in my language or in French when I was at school but… where… in some cases in exhibition we have featured people who are very well known such as Newton, but in roles
that are lesser-known… Yes! So here we have Newton acting as the warden and master of the Royal Mint, and these thumbs are additions of coins that were me.
So it’s really just simple addition. We also have in the exhibition
you don’t family tree drawn by him. So I like the association of Newton and tree. It’s . . . a good idea! . . . remember . . . watching an apple drop from a tree, and he’s written a very different
kind of a tree which is featured in the exhibition. So that gives you a our
guests here a sense of the range. The next thing I’d like to ask you is: what’s
your sense of how handwriting, what handwriting reveals about a
person’s state of mind or personality? When you already said that you don’t
believe in graphology, but what about so I’ve put up two examples a very
distinctive handwriting: Oscar Wilde on this side. Emily Dickinson on this side. That’s . . . way after so much? Well! I mean, what I think
about is more the sort of emotions you have when you write, you know, not that
much what can be revealed for by the way you wrote something, you know. I mean here
of course is a rather dry short note from Oscar Wilde to Bram Stoker. I mean, I
wanted to say that Dorian Gray’s writing to Dracula in a certain way, but going
too far, but basically what is fun here is that, I mean, the first woman Wilde
dated eventually married Bram Stoker who was probably much better married with
you and Oscar Wilde was… you know! And… but here is writing to the man who basically
robbed his first sweetheart. So it has a meaning even though the
content is not fabulous, but he’s asking your favor to the guy to whom he owed
perhaps an even greater favor, but anyway that’s… that’s what a few most and you
can speak much better of Emily Dickinson’s very distinctive handwriting
this one I find beautiful I mean, I think she… she had an extraordinary way of
writing that is very. I’ve never seen anyone handwriting like this either, I mean,
and. Here, I mean, it’s it’s almost like a prose poem
I mean, you can you know with better than I ! and you seen a movie by being
particularly moved by this friends, but she was living almost exclusively in the …
in the privacy of her home, but she maintained connections with people
through handwritten correspondents this was her way of remaining connected to
the world, and she had profound connections with people through
handwriting. So here she’s written to a friend saying: “To be remembered is next to being loved, and to be loved is Heaven, and is this quite…” So, when you
speak about handwriting I hearing you that message that should “be remembered is next to being loved”, and it doesn’t seem to me that you are trying to
discover any sort of secret code about people’s personality it’s more yes look
what we have here oh yes that’s, but that’s the sheer beauty of the matter
yeah the messy handwriting. You know! I mean, I’m not a specialist in musical
handwriting, but I… I… I can see it’s messy it’s probably perfectly… That word for it or perhaps “energetic”? “Energetic” that’s probably better. “Spirited”? “Frenzied”? But it looks this page for me moves me aesthetically, I must say,
because there’s something very strong in it. I mean… There is, and even you might not want to analyze Puccini’s personality . . . oh Yeah! part of his sketches… . . . even you might not wish to analyze his personality based on this certainly it gives you a sense of his energy in the moment of… He’s Italian! You know. You can . . . Okay! So that’s quite a range. And here we have just to say briefly: Letter from Mozart to his father. A paper cut by Hans Christian Andersen inscribed to Mary Grant Kramer, who was President Ulysses Grant’s nice. We have an note from Mary Shelley, in Italian, written just a few months after the death of her husband Percy Shelley,
. . . asking the Italian authorities to turn over the boat in which he drowned, and all of its contents. And a little sketch by Michelangelo, . . . by hand, placing an order for pieces of marble for his first architectural commission . . . your name . . . So what arranged here? So I would like to move now to talk to you about your strategy as a collector. So . . . [ . . . ] Exactly! So… We… We have a friend in common: Susan Tane Yes. is a great friend of the Morgan, and she made a very sensible decision when she decided to become a collector she found an author that she was very
passionate about : Edgar Allan Poe. And began to collect very deeply anything
that she could find related to Edgar Allan Poe. That’s a sensible approach to
collecting, and we sa… So much clever! No? So much clever! Now you have done quite the opposite! Well! It wasn’t a decision I took OK! precisely . . . I just collected what I could afford, and what I would find, you know. but in many areas, in many . . . and about 15 years ago
I wrote a book about my collection I think a copy if their new friend has very kindly brought one called ‘True to the Letter’ that seems and hasn’t
published in English and there I wanted to make a sort of coffee table book that
could indicate to non collectors some of the extraordinary charm and attraction
that these items can bring. You know! I mean, they have brought an enormous joy
and pleasure to my life so I wanted to share yes and and the Morgan, and Colin,
and you have given me this opportunity of sharing it in with this exhibition,
but then by then I said that I hadn’t collected many philosophers, German
philosophers, or certain composers that were out of my range,
but then in the following 15 years as I made some good business I work in
the Art market and I was able to acquire more significant items some of which are
shown here, and I took this crazy decision of trying to make an
“Encyclopedic Collection” I should never… I mean, it was a fateful
day! The day . . . I took deci(sion) . . . Was not … ? No! No! Not! I don’t think it was a date it sort of evolved
I kept resisting, but at the end I thought let’s try and see who are the
four to five thousand people who are most important… Four to five thousand people ?
…Four to five thousand… people! Because it’s many areas.
It’s the areas I collect: Art, Literature, Music, Science, Entertainment, and History.
And that covers pretty much everything if you put Sports in Entertainment, and
Fashion in Art, or something like that it will cover most areas, and… so you know it made me study a lot books because I can’t ascertain who are the greatest
scientists. I don’t know science well enough, you know. So, I mean, but it’s
interesting to see how fame involved you know in literary fame I can… I can judge
by myself, you know. And I can also see how it has evolved and also Art. If you
see a book on the main artists of the 20th Century written 40 years ago it
will differ markedly from a book written today. I mean, many… I
mean… Frida Kahlo was a footnote in Diego Rivera’s biography, now I think Diego
Rivera was the husband of Frida Kahlo. You know! I mean, which is… I mean, fair or
not fame evolves, you know. And it’s fascinating to follow its course. … Mistake is also one of those idle pleasures, and you try, and… and find out whom you desire you know I’m just a admirer of course when
I read I was a boy about 40 years ago the first biography of Camille Claudel I
was very touched by her story, and at that time I was very fortunate to find a
very rare letter by her. That was not in the exhibition. It’s in the book.
But of course… You know! I mean, basically you have to choose what you want and
this idea of an “Encyclopedic Collection” is… It’s ridiculous! Like a Babel Tower,
and it never ends! But… Let’s say that I may have gotten closer than probably
because no one else tried, you know! to To… to come close to obtaining represented items by these four to five thousand people, you know, and that includes all
the Presidents of the United States, all the Kings of France, all the Kings of
England, all the Pope’s since 1500 So, it’s… it’s… it goes, I mean, the … , and
all the Nobel Prize winners You know! It’s endless! All the British
Prime Ministers, but… You know! I mean, it’s it’s… it’s… it’s… it’s… I mean, I often say
it should be in a straightjacket and just have happen just because… You know! I mean, but on the other hand It’s a pursuit that hasn’t harmed anyone, but my wife probably because I spend all my oh my oh whatever I make… I mean, even before I get it it’s already spent in an auction that has happened before my… my… my revenues, so but… You know! I mean, then it happened and now… you know! I mean, it’s… it’s fun, it’s been a very fun pursuit… I mean, a crazy one, ridiculously
ambitious one, you know! And… but the collection is meant to be a sort of
“Panorama of the Culture” I was born into the Western Culture, and in the centuries
where… where autographs are obtainable because although we do have a document
of the 1153 which is almost 900 years in the exhibition, and we’ll see that, I
mean, the collection concentrates on the past 500 years. . . . , Pedro? Well, I don’t exactly maintain. My wife makes fun of me because I sometimes put the little dots in lists.
I mean, the hundred greatest writers… You know! Of course, I can’t have something by
Homer or… You know! … but… Shakespeare. Shakespeare! Only six signatures of his exist.. You know! and I… I can’t dream of that but I do put them it’ll dot next to the one… What number you up to . . . five thousand? I don’t know. I don’t keep that precise . . . record Alright! but I would say that of course very many important people you’d be like Galileo, I mean, no matter of his
has been offered on… in the market in the past thirty years, forty years.
Although Declan … I mean, your predecessor as curator of this show, got a call from
a guy, a few years ago, saying: “Oh! I found this Galileo’s letter in a drawer”, you
know! He would the Morgan Library liked it and of course, I mean, that will not
happen to me… You know! And so Luther, Martin Luther is also every time I tried
to buy something by him the price exceeded by what I could afford them. So!
but still I’m… ▣ … acquired something by his… a… fellow… a … resident Wittenberg [ . . . ] Oh, Yeah! Lucas Cranach. It’s true! …. important … actually it’s even much rarer than… than… than Luther. Yeah! I
think this is the last remaining letter in private hand, but anyway you know also
the address see sometimes very important You know! I mean, ▣ the letter of Franklin
to Washington is something that moves me because you know and it’s sort of
flattering Washington as well… You know! and I think it’s also the last one that
remains in private hands, ▣ but my favorite is John Adams which… because it’s a
letter of Adams about his son, and he says: “How my son will terminate his career…no intelligence, short of Divine Wisdom, I believe can foretell.” Come on! He became President! As, well! So! But it’s so beautifully in sad! You know I mean! And it’s… it’s… it’s really… It’s beautifully in sad, and Adams quite old at the time … handwriting … emotion … Absolutely! Absolutely! Beautiful one! So, let me ask you when you… when you place the checkmark next to a name say Elizabeth, the First Whoa! Do you… do you consider that… that . . . or looking for . . . ? person fulfill all right done or are you
constantly looking for? I’m not really! Not really! I look for upgrades that’s a problem, you know! And… and for certain people like Napoleon, Einstein, or
Picasso, or Freud, or Toulouse-Lautrec (who was a favorite), or Proust. I end up
acquiring sometimes tens of documents… You know! For Napoleon, it’s some many
phases of his career, and then all his family, or his marshals, all the people
around him. So that we can if we were to draw a new… Don’t worry, Colin! Won’t be at
the Morgan, but a new exhibition… You know! Around Napoleon you will have enough
material to make quite a panel that would be quite… quite accurate, or
complete of his life. . . . . . . acquired something that. That’s a good I can get for a particular person. So behind us, we have is a document signed by Elizabeth, The First. And talking about the circunstances… Well, that one That one I acquired in . . auction a long time ago. I think, twenty five, or twenty years ago. [ . . . detail the . . . ] Yeah! And I had just seen a
wonderful movie… You know! I mean, which slightly romanticize… where… where… I mean, Elizabeth is played by… Sixteen years old now! . . . I forgot! She is Cate Blanchett? Cate Blanchett. Exactly! Cate Blanchett plays her beautifully, and it’s
the weeks before her a session, and of course, her sister considered her a
bastard, and an heretic. So she could be either beheaded or become Queen. You know! In those weeks… you know! And unfortunately for her, she became Queen, and with the death of her sister who hated her, and of course this is the document written two days later on her first council meeting… I mean, the first
time she had the opportunity of signing an official document. So I think she was
quite relieved at that moment and I can imagine her emotion by signing a screen
his very first document. So she’s signs this “The Queen” . . . tell us about . . . signature. Oh yes! I mean, normally Kings right
either “The King”, or they add an “R” like “Regina” “Regina”. or “Regina” or… or “Rex” in… in… in letter, and… I mean, interpretations very! Some people say she didn’t know yet that she had decided she
was supposed to add “R” . . . “The … Princess”, and some other people consider that she
thought she had to be further in her reign to start signing with that. Whichever is true the signature is still emblematic of the fact that she was
really at the very dawn of her reign. . . . very dawn of her reign . . . a very long reign. Well! We were very happy that at the last minute you’ve added this document: a bill from Thomas Gainsborough for one of his portraits, because we’re featuring an exhibition of Gainsborough’s drawings . . . So incredible coincidence, because I acquired it quite recently, and it was sold by the auction house with unrelated document… are non-related drawing on the back, but it seemed odd to me, that someone would take half a page that’s the verse of this receipt. This is the plan on the back . . . That’s the bill. Yeah! And then the receipt from, and then it seemed much more obvious that he would take a discarded drawing… I mean, cut the page in two and write the receipt on the back, and eventually to
major… I mean, including the Curator of the exhibition confirmed our suspicions
that it was indeed well okay so we made a lot of collectors in the Art World
you’ll collect works of Art that are shown on wall perhaps in their homes or
in museums whereas what you collect is very
different because yeah it’s a solitary pleasure right so although you do have some drawings
most of what you hold are handwritten letters and documents that you keep
locked up and fireproof cabinets, Oh, yes! It’s true! They weigh half a ton each. So,
I have to leave in the ground floor you know because if not it wouldn’t make any
apartment building crumble… I mean, because there are many in that’s one. So,
what’s the difference between the person who chooses to collect works of art that
will be publicly displayed normally and someone like you. Well! I mean, I can’t
change the nature of what I collect Right! But it’s true that it’s very risky
to to frame autographs… You know! I mean, because they fade and they get lots of
problems out of failing and so I keep them in in in my files and that’s why I
welcome so much this incredible opportunity of sharing them for the
first time because that’s the first time ever that I exhibit my collection as a
collection Well! we’ve said this many times here at the Morgan’s we’ve been
preparing for this exhibition that even though autograph collecting is in a way
a very solitary pursuit you exhibit such Passion for sharing it. Whoa! That is
extraordinary, and I can only share it in my home with my friends… You know! I mean, so having this opportunity is fabulous! I mean, the first book was a way of sharing
it as well having by means of a printed work, but now it’s the real thing that it.
You at your home, and seeing you in your element, but I’ve certainly heard from
other visitors like Declan and Vik Muniz, the artist who wrote a wonderful preface
to the forthcoming catalogs really showed that the experience of visiting
you in your home is extraordinary because you seem to talk about “The Magic of Handwriting” you seem to be a magician who can simply produce anything on call:
“Oh! A letter of Flaubert to this master Victor Hugo! Here it is!”. ‘The opening of ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, and draft form: here it is!” [ . . . Houdini . . . ]. So, do you derive a certain pleasure from that sort of drama of the reveal of course yeah I
may be a dramatic person, but it’s not it’s it’s basically… you know! I mean, of
course, one is very eager to share as many as possible and there’s so much you
can impose on your friends who come and visit you however interest they may be
in what you have, but it’s true that it’s it’s quite marvelous to have this room
lined with this a fireproof cabinets very heavy as I told and… You know! You
won’t have a sleepless night and you want to be in the Middle Ages, or in the
company of Proust, or in the company of the Jacobean leaders whatever… You know! I mean, it or in the company of Toulouse -Lautrec, or around whom I’ve formed the
collection, you know! You… it’s such an extraordinary privilege to revisit the
things… You know! I mean, there’s the… the world and then unexpected things like
Napoleon doodles… You know! alongside a list of Bishops in a very boring meeting.
You know! Where… I mean, he had, so I mean, I have about 50 documents by now or
autographs of Napoleon, but this one was the one I selected because it’s so
unexpected, and also because it’s all handwritten in his handwriting,
you know. how Napoleon handwriting! which is considered universally I like the
worst at writing and… You know! I mean, they’re still many documents that nobody
can read today… You know! there are many interpretations for certain texts of years…You know! but… You know! It’s… it’s a moment… You know! and… and why did he draw the… the doodles look like forts or certifications I don’t know… You know! But
tell me that you’re very drawn to drawings by non-drop. Oh, yes!
I am… I am drawn to some pieces that were not the traditional… You know! form… I mean, that former collectors, I mean, I have a friend here who said to me: “You have
signed photographs in your exhibition…” You know! he seemed to consider them as a minor form of the autograph and I can understand him because sometimes there’s
just a signature you know and compared to a full letter, you know. That doesn’t
mean much about writing to… to collectors of the old school, you know, of which I’m
also part because I compare my, I mean, since I can, but I think these unexpected
documents can carry a lot of weight although I very much respect the opinion
of my friend, you know, who says that lengthy and important letters like the… the…
the Rubens letter that was addressed to Pierre Dupuy, and he mentions the invasion,
imminent invasion of Brazil ! ! ! So finding a letter of Rubens that
mentions my country was an enormous thrill, you know! We do feature in the
exhibition a number of letters by artists appearing in unexpected roles, an
example Cranach not writing about Art, but writing about being a town official
in Wittenberg. Here Rubens writing about [As a diplomat] the world affairs and I
was very proud this morning to see that in the main room there is a Rubens
letter you know you can go back to the other one what a Rubens that’s a film of
the treasure… . . . you? What? In . . . Oh! Thank you! . . . public . . . to me. Exactly! In a . . . Very happy to here that. . . . treasures from the Morgan’s Collection. Yeah! . . . So thinking . . . Going to beyond you,
I selected a Rubens letter to be a companion to yours also I don’t know if
you noticed, but a poem by the American author Elizabeth Bishop from her time
living in Brazil. In Brazil? A letter . . . . . . Thank you, very much! I’m a great admirer of Elizabeth Bishop
and she did spend her happiest years in Brazil. She is… she’s represented in your
collection? Yes, several letters and several books, and
a beautiful signed photograph which was her favorite which is very rare except
photographs. Well! I want to make sure to leave a little time for people to ask
questions, and have many slides to go so let me just say a little bit about some
of the the ones that remain. You’ve told me a lot and talked in your writings
about these various sub categories of your collection’s drawings by non
draftsman, fine photographs… well as I looked at what you selected with us for
the exhibition I detected a few additional categories and I mentioned to
you that one of them is that you seem to have a particular fondness for items
written when people were as you said before “facing death”. [Yeah!] And so, here we have some of them don’t have particularly
extraordinary content, but they’re significant because they were written
just days or weeks before someone died Goethe. Oh! This is Goethe apparently
the last day you said there was a letter Yeah! and it’s… it’s nothing it’s just
something he signs about a newspaper article. and this is Lincoln three weeks
before his assassination, but it’s always… You know! I mean, it’s better than a date
that means some nothing you know when it’s in relation to once this is Gandhi
and Wittgenstein. Please, tell me… well I’m gonna miss a little bit quickly through
these so we have time for questions of course, but these are in that same
category Yeah! This one moves me particularly I got it in Portugal when I was 19 for… when you were 19. Yeah! Because there was some Gandhi stuff in that bookstore you know an integrand
bookstore mostly things by his sons and things like that and he told me there’s nothing by Gandhi not even, but I … I knew this was Gandhi. So… so he sold
me a dollar piece you know and this is a letter ten months before his assassination of a guy who was a friend of his brother was a friend of Gandhi much before in South Africa and he writes to
him and saying: “Oh, you were a friend of my brother” and he says: “I must not divide my attention for things great or small it will be time for me to consider others if I come up safe from the fire which I’m trying to quench the other so great that the fire make when she instead of quenching it.” So, for a
prophetic letter it’s… it’s a good one You know! I quite like it, and then… Well! This is… Yeah! ▣ This is the first letter that Toulouse-Lautrec
ever signed he was eight, his mother wrote the text, but he did this beautiful
flourish in the signature, and this is the last known written message by him. So,
I had the privilege of having the first the opening and the last letter of this
correspondence. ▣ And the next image brings us to the sort of document I quite like
which is this Freud card for instance those that have […] knows you say with
our presence and an immediate understand you know for an American patient Freud
writes: “20 hours=2000 florins”. So, in a certain way: it’s a “résumé” of psychoanalysis . . . in Freud’s own handwriting. Yeah! And there’s a Goya. This
is the document that I also quite in my 20s, you know. This old gentleman that had
beautiful autographs to sell, I mean, he was a great specialist he had already
retired, and he had wonderful Monet letter to it in his hands and I couldn’t afford
any of them you know in this one… Yes! and what about this thing “Oh! This is just a
material document you can have it for . . .” I don’t know. I mean, the Monet I had for
three weeks, but still I spent it, and it says: “I, the undersigned, Claude Monet…”.It’s … it’s a very emotional document for me because it shows the very difficult
beginnings of the Impressionists who became so rich the ones who survived later on. “I, the undersigned, Claude Monet recognized having received from Gustave Manet [the brother of Manet, the Painter] the sum of a thousand ..[two thousand dollars today or something and that’s a..] collateral, I mean, and he lives eight and
then the other twenty seven that he’s still retouching including one representing Japanese woman life-size [which is the pride today of the Fine
Arts Museum of Boston] will be remitted as they are completed”. So, I think you
know they’re very simple document, but which means a lot you can see that. I was
gathering here documents related to Monet to buy me. Yes, it’s true, but I
didn’t… I don’t want this group to leave without seeing one of the real prize of
your collection … and I just… just in our defense I would like to say you can see
how the … Right! The top three lines the other way so it’s understandable that we
got that. Well, Proust is a particular favorite of mine. I mean, I’ve assembled a
large collection with… about thirty letters manuscripts and many hundreds of
letters and photographs of the people who inspired his characters. So, and
people writing about him etc. So when I saw this in a German auction, you know! I
was completely… I mean, it was unknown… I mean, hadn’t been studied yet, and had it
appeared that auction in France it would have been immediately grabbed by the
National Library of France for there, To then . . . because there they can substitute themselves to the last person in an auction. So, they let the auction that happen, and then you’re happy you finally got your thing and there’s a no sorry. I mean, the French State wants this for the museum, so and so, you know! And they have The Right to substitute to the last bid. And here it was in Germany, so we were
not under this risk, and these are the first, very first sentences of arguably the most important novel of the 20th Century, and perhaps one of the most
important very immortal words… works of… of World Literature. Do you want to argue for Ulysses? What ? ? ? I must . . . you want to argue . . . for Ulysses? Yes! English-speaking readers . . . communities, and I can understand that. But then for in the case of Proust … You know! I mean, I had to have it, but of
course I… I didn’t… I didn’t have the money, if it went too high, but at that time, I was President of the National Library of Brazil, a brief stint with public service, that lasted only three. It was about 15 years ago. Three… three… three years, and I was in the airport I had to go to Brasilia. . . . yours bidding . . . Yeah! I was bidding on the phone. The German lady spoke very bad English. I
couldn’t understand what she said. And at the end, she said: “You… you have it!” and I was accepted. And I asked the price it was double what I want. . . . understand . . . But…. I mean, I’m… I’m so happy ! ! ! That I didn’t understanding . . . And . . . French novel . . . the famous paragraph . . . Yeah! The famous first sentence: notoriety could push it, but a lot of times my situation means so here is: « Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure » « Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure » means: ” For a long time I used to go bed early ” ” I used to go bed early ” So, . . . “During many years, I mean, the idea of many years is already there, but the whole idea of the… of the candle being
spent, and he mixing what he… what he’s dreaming about what he was reeling, and
everything is already there.” Well! I’d like to… I remember when you were speaking recently to a journalist, and she asked: ‘Who is the audience for this exhibition?”, and you said: “Well! Anyone with an open spirit” and I thought that was a
beautiful answer on something that you’ve really conveyed today in your
conversation with me and with us. So! Thank you very much for your open spirit, and sharing all of this, and sharing your stories! Please, join me in thanking! Pedro.

👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏 Thank you, … for the way you’ve handled not only this conversation, but this exhibition, this catalog and… I mean,
and we’ve shared the passion we have for the things it has been a great privilege
for me. Thank you, very much! Sure! Sure! If we can have the house
lights up, and then we are we’re videotaping this. So I’ll acknowledge you,
and I’ll repeat the question. So if you have any questions… Yes! Right here? Alright! I’ll just … I’ll try to summarize
this, but the first part is: “Are you being pursued by dealers and then how do you
vet the authenticity of some of the materials?” But… but, of course, I mean, there
is a sort of “Core Collection”, that I… I wouldn’t never touch. You know! but I try
to improve my items. You know! And so, sometimes an item that was satisfactory
when I was 30 or 40 is not satisfactory anymore when I’m 60 and I’ve been
offered better items. So sometimes I trade, I mean, that van Gogh letter I
traded partly for items that the dealer was interested in. So I’m not very good
at selling. I mean, I’m a very bad seller, because I love all these items, and… but
sometimes I do… I don’t know You know! I mean, sometimes I feel… I mean, one of those how… How do you say those dogs that… that run? Greyhound! In those
greyhound races you know where you have a mechanical greyhound that guides the
others. I… I’m constantly competing against the mechanical greyhounds that I
don’t know whom it is… You know! and I only learned that I was competing
against famous collectors when they die and I see the catalog of their sales.
You know! I mean, and so… I mean, being in Brazil you are isolated. You are neither
in Europe, no enough at North America where the main markets are so in a way
it’s an advantage, but also you… you don’t participate in clubs like here in New
York, the Grolier Club where you’ll meet other collectors and you can exchange
use… I mean, where you can see that people are much saner than you are and collect
just one particular author or a period or something so that I didn’t have this…
this chance, you know! I was always very curious about who were the people who
were sharing my passion and Huh! Yes? Yes! Up there? Look, very often! Very often because a
collector after so many decades, you know! I read your … detects saying that for
“almost half a century I’ve collected…” I mean, and it was shocked! because I
started 9 or 11… No! that was great, but during this half century let’s put
it this way you … you have serendipity this, I mean, there is everywhere so
sometimes you are very lucky and amongst things that have not been recognized as
important things you find a gem, or a jewel, or something like that, I mean, I
found my Michelangelo amongst lots that I bought from the famous auction house
and it had not been identified as a Michelangelo … and also that’s luck, but I
couldn’t go before the sale and examined a lot I would have recognized the
Michelangelo, but I knew that this lot was very promising and so I did have a
degree, but I can tell you when I took the train back you know from London to
Paris and suddenly piece of paper and … floor on the train Michelangelo’s drawing and there was another one in the
sale I see well I won’t say the word that came to my mind well I think gave
me the wrong one, I mean, they should have given it to the buyer enough for me know
there was another Michelangelo’s drawing in that collection, and I was to buy. it was on the floor of the train? It was
on the floor of the train for a few seconds then I… I… I and of course, I mean,
sometimes we deserve this sort of luck because we also overpay for certain item. but… You know! It’s fantastic to be able . . .It this was Who’s Who experience was something it’s what I said it’s all about pleasure, I mean, collecting and being passionate about something enhances your life in so
many ways. It’s… it’s… it’s brought me I think I was much happier thanks to this
of course I was anguish very often before I feel were frustrated that I
couldn’t get something, but then you move on to something else and I was never
bored. I was always dreaming of what I was to
acquire next so. // That’s okay! We have one more because that was really an eloquent
way to end, but I will … but except we will I’ll repeat this. The question was: “Does
your collecting has of handwriting has that impacted the way that you communicate?” You know, in the Eighteenth Century, even if you were of a much higher social status than the
person you were writing to you would always end “your very humble servant” so
and so it only I… I… I don’t end my letters with “your humble servant” anymore, but it
has influence. Yes! to a certain degree I think reading so
many letters may have influenced my own writing… I mean, I write books on Brazilian Art,
not in other languages, and everything, but you know it has enriched my life in
so many ways that probably in this way as well you know and it’s it’s something
that I never planned I started collecting at eleven… I mean, I had a
brother who collected coins you know and I wanted to collect something and I had
heard that people collected either stamps or coins or autographs I didn’t
even know very well with that man you know. My brother collected coins, my
mother hated stamps, for some strange reason, and forbidden which was the greatest favor, she did me the greatest favor she didn’t … she had an
uncle who had died young, and he supposedly had a fantastic stamp collection that the widow sold a week later for the truthful amount, you know.
And my mother always had this trauma of the uncle’s collection she said “No! We
shouldn’t let the stamps”. Okay! I mean, what can I say at 11, but she didn’t weigh any fantastic favor and then I started with a notebook asking for
signatures very lots of people at that time and then I went to Belgium, my
father was a diplomat, he was transferred there and I started writing to people
and that’s how the whole thing, but I didn’t know a market existed. I didn’t
know that they were dealers and all of that, I mean. All this I discovered much
later, and…. but most… I mean, my beginnings are not very representative of what the
collection is now because I would say that 95% of my time spending… spent in
collection was acquiring items and not getting them in cursive very few were
gotten in person. I don’t see myself as an autograph hunter. I must say, but I
enjoyed the things I would get through the mail a lot. I mean, I… I got hundreds
of answers and I would come back from school to try and see if Agatha
Christie, or Rubenstein, or Miró, or Golda Meir had answered my letter and they did
you know and so it was a thrill for a boy you know and there are so many
things that can get lost during your teens you know if you don’t have a sort
of direction and gave me a direction for my readings and I read much what I
wanted to know whom I had to write to you know so I had to know who were the
greatest living painters You know already the list. You know and so I would
I would see and I would write in priority to the address of course you
know my brothers kept making fun of me I have had four brothers and they would
say that my letter was like the “kiss of death”. You know! but the rights mostly to the people, but many survived! But some,
and it was great fun for me. It was fun for them you know many demands… I mean, to Picasso demands answer, but my letter is in his archive because he wouldn’t throw away
anything! all this developed in their sort of unfathomable way you know and … to the Morgan. It’s a miracle! I would just like to add to the
person I believe the world of correspondence, but as the recipients of
correspondence from Pedro. I can tell you that yes he has been affected by the… the … collection … Very pompous! …in the last weeks I received … included the words …. “Your humble servant” But that was ingest. But… but… but it’s … There’s a very successful sight they think of ‘Letters of Note’, or something that, doesn’t have millions of people, and this guy had this very clever idea of
searching for incredible letters but not they don’t belong to him… I mean, I have
this privilege of having them in my own house, and I think this gentleman found a
fantastic letter of Fidel Castro to Franklin Roosevelt asking him for a ten
dollar notes at that point we were 13, you know! And he wrote to Roosevelt so it’s
so of course he has a much wider range because then he can write about all the
letters that have been written ever and your love letters interest me alone I
have a few in the collection if you want them and there are this board because I
love to share me. I… I… I often… I mean, I lent items to certain exhibitions of course,
but people don’t know I had this perhaps now they will come more often and I
don’t worry. I don’t worry they are published or
unpublished. I mean, I know it’s very important for universities, but even if I
haven’t unpublished one and they happy that becomes published by an
exhibition or something. So, all my love letters are yours. Well, thank you so much
for sharing your collection and your stories with us!
“The Magic of a Handwriting” will be open until 8:30 this evening. If you want to
take another look, or you haven’t seen it yet. and tell all your friends. This
exhibition will be open through September. And thank you, so much for
coming and give Pedro and Christine! A round of applause! 👏 👏 👏 👏

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