Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is supporting the completion of


the first full-length documentary about Beauford.

Join us in making this video tribute to Beauford a reality!



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beauford's Last Studio - Rue Vercingétorix

On Thursday, October 14th, Les Amis de Beauford Delaney will celebrate Beauford with a commemorative ceremony at his newly laid tombstone at Thiais Cemetery, followed by a reception co-sponsored by the American Embassy at the George C. Marshall Center in Paris.  If you have received an invitation, but have not yet sent your RSVP to the Embassy, please do so as soon as possible.  The final guest list must be submitted 72 hours prior to the event!  


Beauford's last studio was located at 53, rue Vercingétorix, 75014 Paris.  He moved there in 1961, after being released from a psychiatric clinic in Nogent-sur-Marne.  Solange du Closel and her husband, who were avid supporters of Beauford, purchased the atelier in their name and reserved it for Beauford's use once he was able to live on his own again.

In Beauford's biography Amazing Grace, author David Leeming describes the atelier as "a large room with a huge window admitting south light," and mentions that "there was also the luxury of a 'shower bath.'"  Beauford covered everything with white sheets, as he had done in previous studios, to provide his preferred atmosphere for painting.

Fifty-three rue Vercingétorix no longer exists. The photo below presents the neighborhood's current appearance, with the trees standing in the approximate location of Beauford's building:

Rue Vercingétorix
© Discover Paris!

Beauford likely walked past the Notre Dame du Travail church (pictured to the right of the trees above) at Number 59 at least once a day during his stay in the neighborhood.  He may also have frequented the Moulin de la Vierge bakery pictured below (now a classified historical site), which is still operating up the street at Number 105.

Boulangerie Le Moulin de la Vierge
© Discover Paris!

By the early to mid 1970s, Beauford's neighborhood had become so run down that the city began demolishing it.  Beauford's biography indicates that Madame du Closel interceded with friends in the government to allow Beauford to stay in his apartment as long as possible. His building was torn down some time after he was hospitalized at Sainte-Anne's in 1975.

Henry Miller's 1972 visit with Beauford at rue Vercingétorix was filmed, and rare footage of the exterior and interior of Beauford's lodgings can be seen in the video entitled Henry Miller Odyssey.  (Unfortunately, the pertinent segments of the video are not of very good quality.)  I snapped some photos of my television screen during the segment:

Henry Miller and Beauford

Buildings at Number 53, rue Vercingétorix

Beauford and Henry Miller strolling toward Beauford's building

View of the upper story at 53, rue Vercingétorix

In the video, Henry Miller is shown walking around the apartment and talking about his memory of Beauford painting his portrait when they knew each other in New York.  He gestures toward Beauford's stunning portrait of Marian Anderson that is hanging on the wall in the scene below.  In one scene of the film, Beauford tells Miller that he can take anything in the apartment that he wants.

Henry Miller in Beauford's studio

There are many amusing anecdotes about Beauford and his life at the Vercingétorix studio.  In Amazing Grace, Leeming recounts a story about Beauford's refrigerator.  He says that Beauford bought it with money that he received from a Fairfield Foundation grant for $3500 in 1964, and that he used it as a storage cabinet!

Burt Reinfrank has shared several anecdotes for this blog, some of which have already been published here.  Ed Clark shared one, which I published in last week's posting entitled "Ed Clark Remembers Beauford."  I will publish additional anecdotes from Burt and others over the next several weeks.

1 comment:

Vercin said...

The Henry Miller Odyssey dates 1969.

Besides, the 53 rue Vercingétorix building can be seen on the left on this photo : http://parisavant.com/index.php?showimage=809