Appraisal Video: (3:29)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
GUEST: My husband's Aunt Bernice was an art student at Ohio University. She had read an article about Nijinsky having an art show of the paintings that he did when he was having a mental breakdown, and she being an art student was going to write about some mentally ill artwork. She wrote to Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and received a reply from both of them. After Bernice passed away, I picked up one of her books to take home, The Writings of Sigmund Freud, and inside the book was an envelope with these letters and the article inside of them. It was kind of fun to find the surprise inside the book.
APPRAISER: The first thing you brought sort of sets the stage for the rest of it. It's this news article called "The Mad Nijinsky," and basically, it's a press release. He was of course the greatest dancer, and he had a tremendous career, but he always had some mental problems, and then around 1917, he had just about a complete breakdown and stopped dancing, to a large degree. Part of his recuperation was to do artwork. Now, a few of the critics say his artwork started out with birds and insects and then got darker and darker and darker. What was happening here in this article is there was a Leggett gallery in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria, and they were exhibiting some of his paintings. They obviously wanted to sell the paintings. Well, within it, they said, "These were so important that Freud and Jung had made comments and appreciated the paintings," so your aunt, fact-checking, wrote to Freud, wrote to Jung, and said, "What's the story? "Did you see them? Did you like them?" And Freud writes back, "I never saw Nijinsky. "He was never a patient of mine. I've never seen his artwork." This is the original letter. It's in German. But someone in 1933, when these were written, translated it into English, and basically, he's saying, "You can never believe what you see in the press." Jung, on the other hand, said that he believes that he saw Nijinsky as a patient during the war. Now of course, he was referring to World War I, which would have been the right date. And he says he was schizophrenic, he was essentially catatonic, and there was no way that he could even have a conversation, and he never saw his artwork, so he has no comment to make. But he's saying Van Gogh was a much better example, and maybe you want to study that. So here are two letters, Freud and Jung. They wrote back, which is really wonderful, but they're talking about one of the greatest dancers of the time. And it's a little hard to evaluate because of all the connections, but I would say a fairly conservative retail estimate would be, for the two letters, $15,000 to $20,000.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness, I... Oh, my, that's wonderful. I think I'm going to have to preserve these a little bit better than just leaving them folded in the envelopes.