[ Janina Forbes-Robertson [ Janina Flamm ], artist. ] Three Autograph Letters Signed (all 'Jania') to her husband Eric Forbes-Robertson, complaining of poor treatment by his brother the actor Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson and the rest of his family.
Janine Flamm attended the Académie Julian in Paris with Eric Forbes-Robertson, an associate at Pont-Aven of Gaugin and Robert Bevan, who married her college friend the Polish artist Stanislawa de Karlowska (1876-1952). The couple married on Jersey in 1897, and their son Philippe was born soon after, followed by sisters Ida and Cecilia. None of these three letters is dated, but they must all have been written in the early years of the twentieth century, with Janina miserably placed with her young children in London while her husband pursued his artistic ambitions in the country. (The sequence of the letters is tentative, but the first at least dates from before the death in 1903 of Eric's father.) The three items are in fair condition, on aged and worn paper, with closed tears along fold lines. A melancholy and poignant testimony to a life dogged by sadness and ill health. On her death her brother-in-law Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson would write: 'Such a good mother, a good wife was poor Janina' (Eric Forbes-Robertson Papers). ONE: '1 November'. 4pp., 12mo. She begins: 'I try to you writing english, I have understood all your letter without dictionary'. She thanks him for the 20 shillings, 'but next week send me 30. Thank you for your good letter, that is not often, when you me writing so long.' Referring to work he had done on set designs for a production of his brother's, she writes that she is glad he has 'painting for Johnston but, I am also astonished that Johnston dont paid you more for all that work and you help also you.' Their son 'Phips' is in a convalescent hospital in the country, 'and I am going next week with Leonard to see him'. She gives news of a baby girl (presumably Ida), under the nickname 'Little Ours'. 'Nobody, only Leonard comint to see me. Ida I have seen six week ago, and Gertie never, and never your mother – your father I have not seen, yet, but I think that your father, Leonard, and Daisy, give me a little simpathie, but nobody more of your family. - | When Ida comint see me, she always speak so desagreable, I like better not see her. When you come back, I sai you what she has speak about you, she has been very very naughty and desagreable.' She has had a letter from 'Stasia' (her Polish friend Stanislawa de Karlowska (1876-1952), wife of the Camden Town Group artist Robert Bevan (1865-1925)): 'they coming only in ending of November. - So I am quite alone. - and very very sad. - I been so happy when you come back, it is so long.' She ends with the news that she is 'better as never with my health'. TWO: In French. From 79 Netherwood Rd, Shepherd's Bush; dated 'Lundi'. 6pp., 12mo. Written in extreme distress, signed 'Ta pauvre et très triste et malheureuse | Jania', and with 'Repond tout de suite' written twice on the last leaf'. She has received a letter from his mother (Frances Forbes-Robertson, wife of the art critic John Forbes-Robertson, 1822-1903), and feels that her troubles 'ont prit le but suprême'. The letter is 'très froide et laconique', and informs her that his brother Johnston 'coupe completement l'envoi de mes 6 livres par mois', that she has received her last and final payment, and that Johnston no longer wishes to support his brothers. She laments her life, which brings her 'que des larmes'. She accuses him of lying by telling her that he had 'une livre seulement – quel terrible mensonge'. On his return from the country he must find 'n'importe quel travail', otherwise she will go into service or end her life. She again complains that his mother is 'froide comme une glace envers moi', and indifferent to their son, despite his illness, while her heart is 'tout pour le bebe de Johnston. Enfin toute ta famille n'a pas besoin de moi – ne vient jamais – et je n'irai pas non plus'. She feels sad and abandoned since coming to London, his brother Leonard being the only member of the family who shows her any sympathy. She gives news of Philippe's health before pleading: 'Eric il faut décidé quelque chose sérieuse. Tes ambitions dans ta poche et travaille de n'importe quel façon – if faut enfin faire quelque chose pour ta femme et pour tes pauvres petits enfants'. She ends by telling him that Ida (his sister) has talked to her again about 'cette peinture décorative dans les maisons […] If faut essayer!' In the margin of the penultimate page she has written: 'Moi je travaille assez comme domestique'. THREE: '13 Batoum Gdns | Shepherd Bush | Sunday.' 4pp., 12mo. Writing in shaky English, she begins: 'My dearest Eric. | I am sending you your trousers – but they have be torn just in a very nice place, and I have mended it.' She thanks him for the money and 'nice long letters', and worries that he will get 'over tired'. She has received a letter from 'Miss Wallace – and Cecilia is going with me next Thursday'. 'I have been to day with the children to see Leonardo – and he gave a very nice tea and was enough cheerful. […] Baby talk very often about you – and also say, that she like to go out with dear Papa. And when I told her that I will write a letter to Papa – she sayin, “will you write about baby?”?>