The Complete Works of Philippe Smit
by Andreas Narzt and Florence Castellani
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Catalogue entry

Photo: Roger / Studio Sebert; © FdDPS



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Classification: Pastel »
Theme: figurative »
Medium: Pastel »
Support: on cardboard »
Year(s): 1941 »
PS 486
Paris Nostalgia
Alternate title: Recueillement (Contemplation)
Pastel on cardboard laid down on plywood
39 3/8 x 29 5/8 in. (100 x 75 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: Philippe Smit/ 41
On the back: a metal plate: Urban Hubscher on the frame lower left.
Inv. Berendina Hubscher, n.d. [ante 1952], s.n., private archives: no. [26], p. [1], Pastels: Nostalgie de Paris.
Inv. Leteneur, n.d. [1977], n.p., s.n., private archives: no. [65], p. [7], chambre d'ami: Smit Philippe - 'Nostalgie'/ Pastel signé en bas à gauche, 97 x 71 [cm].
No known exhibitions.
Literature & Primary Sources
ALS to Philippe Smit. Ceray [Céré-la-Ronde], Noël 1941.
Niehaus, Kasper. Philippe Smit, unkown genius. Revised and edited by Marjorie Bell. Typescript, 1955, p. 22, as Recueillement (Contemplation).
Pondering loneliness, sadness and regret, Philipp Smit is inspired in this work by Charles Baudelaire. On the sheet nailed to the wall the painter quotes some lines from the sonnets "Que diras-tu ce soir, pauvre âme solitaire" (What Will You Say Tonight, Poor Solitary Soul) and "Recueillement" (Meditation), extracts from the volume Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil)1.
Yet, while working on the book project2, which to our knowledge started in 1950, Leo Hubscher suggested to his sister Berendina to favour the title Paris Nostalgia for this pastel: "[…] now, I do not know if you remember when we discussed some time ago which titles to use, we realized that there were in fact two Paris Nostalgia, that is to say the one photographed showing a woman leaning against a wall with the dog and a small pastel [sic], [PS 487], which was with Henri for conservation. We decided then to call the first one 'Recueillement [Contemplation]' […] there is no inconvenience to rename it 'Paris Nostalgia' what I find anyway more characteristic for this pastel. […]"3

Nicolaas Urban writes to Philippe Smit: "[…] It is surprising, but my attention turns to the memories of Montmartre – so beautiful, so profound, so painful: the real Spleen of Paris!4 Paris with your memories of your younger days like a dream, lost in the atmosphere of the sky; full of light; sad as well as beautiful. A masterpiece done by a soul full of nostalgia and love. […]"5

1. Charles Baudelaire, Les fleurs du mal, Paris: pour les Cent bibliophiles, 1899, p. 111 et 265; The Flowers of Evil, Fresno: Academy Library Guild, 1954.
2. See Niehaus 1955.
3. "[...] nu weet ik niet of je je herinnert, dat wij destijds bij het bespreken van de vast te stellen titels constateerden dat er twee Nostalgie de Paris waren, n.l. die waarvan een photo werd gemaakt en voorstelt de tegen den muur leunende vrouw met den hond, en een klein pastel, dat toen bij Henri was om het op te knappen; wij besloten toen het eerstgenoemde den titel te geven van 'Recueillement' [...] is er geen bezwaar 'Recueillement' weer om te doopen in 'Nostalgie de Paris', wat ik per slot van rekening meer kenschetsend vind voor deze pastel. [...]" (Leo Hubscher, copy of a TL to Berendina Urban, 1st March 1952, LNC archives).
4. A baudelarian state of mind and a title used by the artist for another pastel executed two years later (see [PS 504]).
5. "[…] C’est étonnant, mais, mon regard tombe sur les souvenirs de Montmartre – si beau, si profonds, si douloureux: la véritable Spleen de Paris! Paris avec tes souvenirs de ta jeunesse comme un rêve, perdu dans l’atmosphère du ciel; plein de lumière; même triste que beau. Un chef-d’œuvre fait par une âme pleine de nostalgie et d’amour. […]" (Nicolaas Urban, ALS to Philippe Smit, Ceray [Céré-la-Ronde], [Indre], Christmas 1941, LNC archives, reply upon receiving from Philippe Smit at Christmas three reproductions of his latest works [PS 485], [PS 473] and [PS 486]).

Record last updated April 29, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
Citation: Narzt, Andreas and Castellani, Florence. "Paris Nostalgia, 1941 (PS 486)." The Complete Works of Philippe Smit. (accessed on September 26, 2021).