Cocteau memorabilia up for auction in Paris

Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:37pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - A collection of memorabilia of the French 20th century writer and artist Jean Cocteau, including letters to his partner, the actor Jean Marais, goes on sale in Paris on Monday.

Cocteau, who died in 1963, collaborated with artists ranging from the composers Igor Stravinsky and Eric Satie to Pablo Picasso and the ballet impresario Sergey Diaghilev, carving a distinctive place in French art and writing.

His works range from novels such as "Les Enfants Terribles" to portraits, advertising commissions, theater sets and cinema. He gave Marais two of his best known film roles in "Beauty and the Beast" and in "Orphee."

Many of the lots, which came from Marais' Paris apartment and house on the Riviera, testify to the close relationship between the two men, including correspondence and a number of Cocteau's sketches and portraits of the actor.

"(Marais) used to say, without self-pity: 'My life ended the day Jean Cocteau died'," Alain Roland, an actor who performed with Marais in a production of King Lear in 1979, recalled as he browsed through the items on display at the auction house.

The collection, expected to fetch up to 600,000 euros ($790,000), attracted a crowd of viewers ahead of the sale, many of whom had a personal association with Marais.

"Even if you can't buy anything, coming here is a way of greeting him and saying thank you," said actor Jean-Paul Bordes, who was performing at the French national theater, the Comedie Francaise, in 1998 on the night Marais' death was announced to the audience in the interval.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

<p>Visitors look at a collection of objects, paintings and letters between the French author and artist Jean Cocteau and his onetime partner, actor Jean Marais, at Drouot auction house in Paris April 24, 2009. The collection goes on sale next week at the Drouot auction house in Paris. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>