Factory at Horta de Ebro, Pablo Picasso, 1909. One of the many Picassos bought by art patron Frank Haviland directly from the artist.
Hi Travellati friends,
About 100 years ago, a little mountain town in the French Pyrenees called Céret became a center of Modern Art. Up-and-coming artists such as Picasso, Braque, Matisse, and Gris spent summers here in the teens of the last century. It was here that Picasso and Braque developed analytical cubism (those pictures in brown and grey with lots of lines in different directions and hard-to-recognize subjects). This group became known as the School of Céret.
Left: Head [Frank Haviland], Picasso, Paris, early 1912. Right: Photo of Frank Haviland.
After WW I, another wave of artists and writers including Soutine, Dufy, and Cocteau descended on the town. During WW II, artists fleeing Nazism settled there, among them Chagall, Dubuffet, and Tzara.
Photo by Picasso of Frank Haviland in Picasso’s studio, 1910.
Note Haviland’s ivory-topped walking stick.
How did this little town become a mecca for artists and the namesake of the School of Céret? It was due to someone you’ve probably never heard of until now: Frank Burty Haviland (1886-1971). Haviland was the heir to the Haviland china fortune and was in 1910 a wealthy young man-about-town in Paris, a dandy, an amateur painter and musician, friends with many artists, and a fervent supporter and collector of art who saved many from hunger, particularly Picasso.
Seated Female Nude, Pablo Picasso, early 1910.
Another of the Cubist Picassos purchased by Haviland.
Picasso was very indebted to Haviland as Haviland had stood by him as he got into Cubism, at which point many of his established buyers stopped buying his work. Haviland hung in there and so helped Picasso survive while he was developing Cubism. Leo Stein (Gertrude Stein’s brother) later recalled: “In 1910 I bought my last picture from Picasso and that was one that I did not really want, but I had from time to time advanced him sums of money, and this cleared the account…Picasso was not pleased that I would have none of his cubism…Whenever we met he would recur to this and say, ‘Why don’t you like my painting?’”
Head of Frank Burty Haviland, Manolo Hugué
In January 1910, the Catalan sculptor Manolo Hugué (known as Manolo) invited Haviland to Céret. Haviland bought an old monastery in Céret, Le Couvent des Capucins, to which he invited his artist friends from Paris, including Picasso, who came to town in 1911, followed shortly thereafter by Matisse, Braque, and Gris.
Photo of Picasso inscribed to Haviland:
“To my dear friend Frank Haviland, Picasso, 5 December 191?”
Starting in 1948, Haviland, along with Pierre Brune, founded the Musée d’Art Moderne in Céret. He served as its curator between 1957 and 1961. Being an untrained curator, he unfortunately hung some Matisse drawings where the direct sun would hit them and so they became rather faded before someone noticed and had them moved.
Left rear: Frank Haviland; right front: Lee Kemble.
Note Frank’s walking stick, no longer ivory topped.
In 1952, Haviland met a young American artist from Cincinnati who had just rolled into town to pay his respects to the cradle of Cubism, hoping some of its artistic inspiration would rub off on him: Lee Kemble, my Dad. By that point, Dad remembers, Frank was an impoverished old man, living in a tool shed, but still welcoming artists to Céret. Dad even spent a night in a hayloft with Frank when he had nowhere else to stay. Dad well remembers Frank showing him Manolo’s bust of himself (see above) at the Céret art museum. Frank regaled him with stories of the famous artists he had known, including one about how the famous portrait of himself by Modigliani (see below) came about.
Top: Les Capucins, Frank Burty Haviland, 1940-1950
Bottom: Les Capucins, Lee Kemble, ca. 1952
Portrait of Frank Haviland, Amedeo Modigliani, 1914
Frank died in 1971 at the age of 85 in the Catalonian Mediteranean town of Perpignan and is buried in his beloved Céret. More about the history of Modern Art and the lovely town of Céret in upcoming newsletters.
Frank Haviland, date unknown.
Dad (Lee Kemble) will turn 92 next week. Here he is in front of his "Paris" painting in the 2010s, 100 years after Frank bought Les Capucins in Céret.
Stay tuned for more about Céret and its artists!
As always, happy travels!