More than 4 months ago, I was doing some research on the Gadet pages of the Illustrated History of Clowns and Clowning. One of the drawings, pastels of Gadet by Pierre Bonnard is owned by the Tate. So about 4 months ago I rang them and asked about it. Its not on show apparently. It has been from time to time, but according to them it ‘isn’t a major work by Bonnard, and we have limited space, so we tend to show other Bonnard pieces’. We had a chat, and I said what I was up to, and the guy sounded interested. Well the upshot of it was that he said I should send them an email – requesting a private viewing. He said I had to give a good reason (typically he said its guys writing books, or for valuations) and if I have a good enough reason they might show me the work.
So I sent them an email, laying out the same story that is on this website etc, and explaining why I wanted to see this sketch. I explained how it is pinned up in the background of a photograph of Gadet, actually being drawn by Bonnard. The photograph is apparently by Brassai (who took a fair few photographs of Gadet, and separately a fair few shots of Bonnard – so the 2 of them in the one shot is very interesting). The drawing/ painting that Bonnard is working on can’t really be seen, so I dont know where that ones housed. But pinned up on the wall, among other drawings etc is the sketch of Gadet, by Bonnard, owned by the Tate. They were really interested to know this, and no one seems to have put all the images together.
So about 2 weeks ago I got a phone call saying that I could come and see the Bonnard sketch. I would be allocated a time, taken to their vaults, and had about 30 minutes to look at the piece. So I booked a flight and went to see it today. Great place to see – just racks upon racks of work – which you cant really see – its just a warehouse really. Temperature controlled – so pretty cold. The drawing was all laid out when I arrived – lots of white gloves etc. But they let me take a picture, which I have included here. I just took it on my phone. You can see in real life, but not so much in the photograph, the hole where the thumb tack went through when it was pinned to the wall of Bonnard studio.
I had brought with me, and left with them, a copy of Gadet’s pages in the Illustrated History of Clowns and Clowning, and the guy showing me around (Alan) pretended to be interested, but not especially interested, and glanced at what I gave him before dropping it in the file with the rest of the information.
In the Brassai photograph the image is black and white, so it was interesting to see the bright colours. And great to hold a piece of history.
I will upload the actual pages of Gadet in the next week or so. I need to scan them better.