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keller letter 1 sm keller letter 2Deane Keller was one of the “Monument Men,” who helped to rescue masterpieces of art from the rapacity and destruction of the Nazis. He was also a well-known portraitist, Yale professor, and Paier teacher. Charlotte had him as a teacher at Yale, and I had him at Paier School of Art.

The story of his World War II actions has been documented in The Rape of Europa, by Lynn Nicholas, on PBS, and more recently in The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. Now, the Edsel book is going to be a movie, directed by George Clooney, and starring  such actors as Bill Murray and Matt Damon:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monuments_Men.

Fans of Charlotte will be interested to know Mr. Keller was a fan and friend of hers, as seen in the letter above. My transcript follows:

Dear Charlotte:

I don’t know when I have had a better time at an exhibition of fine painting than I did this past Sunday–

One thing among others that pleased me so, and which I admire, is your outlook on life–It is gentle, pleasant, perfect taste. You don’t shock people, you make them happy and you recall for them the essential virtues in this life. We need this so badly. All the paintings are consistent from this point of view.

The paintings. What can one say? Carefully composed, beautifully drawn, masterly in the technical problems–there is what we call Tender Loving Care throughout the whole exhibition–They certainly are among the best of their kind in American painting.

I can’t help but state that I , among the rest, had a modest hand in your student development–Such painting as you do in maturity makes all the student study & teaching so very worthwhile. All of us who worked with you at Yale are indeed proud and happy in your great success.

I wanted to set these thoughts down on paper, as vis-a-vis talk disappears into thin air–There is much I could say about the enormous amount of work, the continued high standards. And, to repeat, and so important, the qualities of thought and imagination that separate the painters from the artists, a sharp distinction that I’ve had for half a century. You belong to the artists.

Best all around–Deane–