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Letters from Marcel Vertès to Gillian Sutro, with some papers, 1939-1961 1939-1961


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His letters, in French, sometimes of great length (e.g. 12 Aug. 1956 - 25 pages), are full of details of his daily life and work, meetings with friends and acquaintances, travels, exhibitions of his work, his health, and his feelings for Gillian Sutro, with whom he had a lifelong affair. Meetings include for example accounts of Françoise Sagan, 1955 (MS. Eng. c. 7238, fols. 173v-175r), and Georges Simenon, 1954, 1956 (MSS. Eng. c. 7238, fols. 23v-27r, 32v-33v, 35; c. 7240, fols. 5r-7r; with a pen-and-ink portrait of Simenon, 1954, MS. Eng. c. 7238, fol. 33r). Many of the letters are dated by Gillian (from the postmark, not the day of writing), and many of the envelopes have annotations by her, in English (about the contents of the letters, and her own life at the time); with some later notes and cuttings (e.g. obituaries of persons mentioned) added by her.

Drawings or small (some of them very small) sketches by Vertès are MS. Eng. c. 7235, fols. 2-3, 34v-35r , 90v , 91v, 92v (copy on display in the Sutro Room, Trinity College), 190; MS. Eng. c. 7236, fols. 26, 163v; MS. Eng. c. 7237, fols. 84, 120, 315v; MS. Eng. c. 7238, fols. 30, 33, 45-6, 52, 137, 139; MS. Eng. c. 7239, fols. 7v, 44, 159, 174v, 201v, 231v; MS. Eng. c. 7240, fols. 13, 112, 176v, 186v, 303, 307; MS. Eng. c. 7241, fols. 29, 237v, 251, 293, 295v, 329, 332; MS. Eng. c. 7242, fols. 2r, 2v, 74, 146v, 163, 214, 266. A few have been replaced by photocopies (the originals being restricted for preservation).


  • Creation: 1939-1961 1939-1961

Language of Materials

  • English

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. c. 7235-7244

Biographical / Historical

Marcel Vertès (1895-1961), artist, illustrator and designer, born in Budapest, moved to Paris in the early 1920s, lived in New York, c.1940-45, and then returned to Paris. His work included designs for circuses and films, restaurants and private houses, and illustrations for many books. He won an Oscar for his costume designs for John Huston's Moulin Rouge (1952). His style was distinguished by 'la vitalité, la sensualité souriante' (Raymond Cogniat, obituary of Vertès, Le Figaro, 2 Nov. 1961). Useful accounts of him are contained in Francis Carco, Vertès (New York, 1946), containing an account of the life and work of Vertès, with many illustrations - see MS. Eng. b. 2132, and in Marcel Vertès ( Les Cahiers d'Art-Documents, no. 27 (1956)), including a short biography of Vertès, lists of his work in all media (including books, exhibitions, theatre and film work), and some illustrations - see MS. Eng. c. 7244, fols. 31-40.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom