Et la plus belle
1 A plum poem, letter to Isabelle Lemonnier
2 Venetian lanterns, letter to Isabelle Lemonnier 3 Watercolor of Isabelle Lemonnier bathing at Luc-sur-Mer 4 Boots & fashion accessory, letter to Madame Jules Guillemet , R.M.N. Paris, Musée du Louvre (fonds Orsay).
Manet wrote these letters to Isabelle Lemonnier during summer 1880, three years before his death. He was but fifty then and secluded at Bellevue for a water cure supposed to root out the first stroke of syphillis forcing him to walk with a cane. The summer passed in a blur of shower, baths, pummeling massages and rare visits. It was a wet summer and the rain made Manet peevish. He had not the strength to paint. So to stave off boredom he wrote flirtatious letters to his many female admirers. The debutante and last modele, Isabelle Lemonnier is reported to have found him tiresome and will not answer his dainty notes filled with rhymes and sketches. Manet's last words sent to the young lady were:
14 juillet 1880
Je ne vous écrirai plus, vous ne me répondez jamais.
Lettres illustrées, Bibliothèque de l'image, 2002. Introduction Arnauld Le Brusq.
Jacques Henric, Dormez mes bien-aimées, Flohic editions 1995.