Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes
Year:
1946
Author:
Paul Valéry
1871 to 1945
Artist:
Jean Eugène Bersier
1885 to 1978
Publisher:
Paris

Le retour de Hollande begins with a famous passage about a train, Paul Valéry's favourite means of transport. According to him, it is the ideal place for a Cartesian meditation.

Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): frontispiece: etching by J.E. Bersier
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): frontispiece: etching by J.E. Bersier
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): title page
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): title page
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): etching by J.E. Bersier (p. 9)
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): etching by J.E. Bersier (p. 9)
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): etching by J.E. Bersier (p. 25)
Paul Valéry, Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d'un Descartes (1946): etching by J.E. Bersier (p. 25)

The philosophy of Descartes and Paul Válery

'As far as I am concerned, from the moment that the waggons start moving, I rock myself on simple metaphysics that are mixed with myth'. The train devours everything that comes in its way, just like time; it perforates and transforms the landscape. The mood of the traveller is sensitive to these changes: past, present and future become mixed up. But 'the pure logician that lives within us' resists this transitoriness. According to Valéry, Descartes was at home in Amsterdam, his refuge.

Although he did not like the crowds, the bustle and liveliness of the trade port gave him food for thought and inspired his philosophical and scientfic research. From Descartes, Valéry went to the Dutch painters Rembrandt and Hals, who portrayed the philosopher. Valéry admired their art and the indirect effect that it caused with its play of light and shadow.

The rational art of Jean Eugène Bersier

With a cautious sense of detail Jean Eugène Bersier illustrated the well-known Dutch landscape in fifteen black-and-white etchings described by Valéry in Le retour de Hollande: mills, canals, boats, fishermen, horses and seagulls. Bersier was an authority in the field of the technique of etching. He wrote a number of manuals on the subject, including La gravure: Les procédés, l'histoire (1947). In 1928, he was co-founder of the association La Jeune Gravure Contemporaine. In his view, an etching was the result of a struggle between the intention of the artist and the unruliness of the material. That is why the artist must have a clear plan in advance: the etching is a 'reasoned' artform.

Bibliographical description:

Description:

Le retour de Hollande, suivi de Fragment d’un Descartes / Paul Valéry ; eaux-fortes par Jean-Eugène Bersier. – Paris : Compagnie Française des Arts Graphiques, 1946. - 46 p. : ill. ; 26 cm

Printer: R. Girard (text); Thirot pour la Compagnie des Arts Graphiques (etchings)
Edition: 333
This copy: Number 244 of 291 on pur fil Lana
Bibliography: Bénézit 2-203 ; Dugnat et Sanchez I-236 ; Saur Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon 10-32
Shelf-mark: KW KOOPM K 140

References:

  • Jean E. Bersier, La gravure: Les procédés, l'histoire. Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1963
  • Denis Bertholet, Paul Valéry. Paris, Plon, 1995
  • Paul Gifford, Paul Valéry à tous les points de vue. Paris, L'Harmattan, 2003
  • William Kluback, Paul Valéry: A philosopher for philosophers, the sage. New York, Lang, 2000
  • Anne Mairesse, Figures de Valéry. Paris, L'Harmattan, 2000
  • Paul Valéry, De terugreis uit Holland. (Vertaling A.A.M. Stols). Maastricht, A.A.M. Stols, 1926