“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, July 30, 1922, Central Park West, New York City, New York

If Irish-American lawyer and patron of the arts John Quinn, 52, wants to get out of the city as planned to spend all of August with his sister and niece in the Adirondacks, he has a bit of correspondence to catch up on.

Quinn has been corresponding with his emissary in Paris, Henri-Pierre Roche, 43, about leaving his best French paintings to the government of France, to be cared for in the Louvre. Roche has been negotiating to have Quinn acquire The Circus by Georges Seurat. Roche wrote to him at the beginning of the month about a crazy day when he and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, 40, went flying around Paris carrying a Cezanne landscape with them in a taxi, stopping at every shop to buy up all the suitable frames they could find.

The Circus by Georges Seurat

One of the writers Quinn supports, American T. S. Eliot, 33, living in London, has written to give him power of attorney when negotiating a contract with Boni and Liveright to publish his latest work, an untitled lengthy poem. They are not sure, however, if it will be lengthy enough to appear as a book. Eliot writes that he is planning to add some notes to make it fatter. Quinn is finally getting around to reading the typescript Eliot has sent and is turning it over to his office secretary to make a copy that can be submitted to Liveright.

Typescript of poem by T. S. Eliot

Quinn is finishing off a lengthy letter to one of his Irish friends, poet and painter AE (George Russell, 55). Their mutual friend, Lady Augusta Gregory, 70, had recently asked Quinn to recommend painters for inclusion in the Hugh Lane Gallery, which she is trying to establish in memory of her nephew who went down with the Lusitania seven years ago. Quinn reports to AE that he told her that of the dead ones he would rank, in order, Cezanne, Seurat (much better than Renoir), and Rousseau. He puts Gauguin and van Gogh a bit farther down.

Of living artists he would include Picasso, Georges Braque, 40; Andre Derain, 42; and Henri Matisse, 52; in the first tier. In the second, Raoul Dufy, 45; Constantin Brancusi, 46—whom he has become good friends with—and Georges Rouault, 51.

Quinn tells AE that he would add a third tier of the living:  Juan Gris, 35; Marie Laurencin, 39; and Jacques Villon, about to turn 47, among others.

The Winged Horse by AE

Quinn’s longest letter is to another Irish friend, poet and playwright, William Butler Yeats, 57. He brings Willie up to date on the recent funeral of his father, whom Quinn had taken care of during the past 15 years in New York City. The Yeats family decided it would be better for Dad to be buried in the States, and Quinn arranged a site in upstate New York: 

If you and your sisters could see the place, I am sure you would have approved of [our] selection. When Lady Gregory was here the last time, lecturing, she told me one day, half in earnest and half in fun, that if she died in this country she wanted to be buried where she died, unless she died in Pittsburgh. She refused to be buried in Pittsburgh…One day downtown, when I was having coffee after lunch with two or three men, one of them said:  ‘Times change. Now there is [famous actress] Lillian Russell. In the old days she was supposed to have had many lovers and she was married and divorced four or five times. But years go by, and she marries again, and settles down, and finally dies in the odor of—’

‘Pittsburgh,’ said I.

Lady Gregory refused to be buried in the odor of Pittsburgh.”

Quinn ends by congratulating Yeats on his honorary degree from Trinity College and asks that Willie’s wife send him some photos of their children and Thoor Ballylee, the tower they are living in.

Now he is ready to pack up and go on a well-earned vacation.

Pittsburgh, 1912, when Lady Gregory visited with The Abbey Theatre

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Later in the year I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, January 27, 1922, American Art Galleries, American Art Association, Midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York

What a lovely day.

Irish-American lawyer and art collector, John Quinn, 51, has some business at the American Art Galleries, where the Kelekian Collection is about to go on sale. He has invited along Irish painter John Butler “JB” Yeats, 82, father of Quinn’s friend, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 56.

Since Yeats’ Dad has been living in New York for the past few years, Quinn has basically been taking care of him.

Quinn has arranged for a Packard touring car and driver and had his assistant [and mistress], Mrs. Jeanne Foster, 42, go on ahead to pick up JB. She has wrapped him up nice and warm against the bright chilly day, and they have met John at the gallery.

Packard touring car

The three are having a great time looking at the paintings. Quinn is interested to see how the sale goes overall, because it will be an indication of the worth of his own similar—but much superior, in his view—collection.

Mr. Yeats and Mrs. Foster are both just enjoying being surrounded by such works of art. Corots! Courbets! Cezannes!

Quinn admires the self-portrait by Toulouse Lautrec. JB says that, the way that man looks, he should be guillotined. They make fun of a pastel by Degas. JB calls it “the washer woman exposed.” Quinn asks their opinion of the Seurat, La Poudreuse. They both agree that it is lovely.

Quinn can tell that the old man is starting to tire, and his cough is getting more distressing. But he is definitely enjoying Jeanne’s company.

Quinn bundles them both into the Packard to have a restful lunch, do some shopping, then end up back at JB’s rooms. Quinn goes back into the galleries to determine how much to bid for La Poudreuse at the upcoming auction.

La Poudreuse by Seurat

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

On February 3, 2022, we will be celebrating the 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgher Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. You can register for this free event, or sign up to watch it via Zoom, here

At the end of February I will be talking about the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.