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Madame Ginette Apostolescu at the interior of Marie Bashkirtseff's mausoleum.
The literary work by Marie Bashkirtseff has been one of her greatest passions. For years, the restitution of the colossal diary, preserved at the National Library of France, was her thought, her dream, her arduous work of choice, her most precious hope. At a decade’s end, Madame Apostolescu managed to achieve what the publishing business considered a tremendous challenge: the publishing of the whole 105 notebooks and signatures written by Marie Bashkirtseff.
With an obstinacy, an energy, and a discipline which were exemplary, Madame Apostolescu assumed the delicate task of deciphering the 19000 pages of the manuscript, of creating its data record and of constantly rereading it to compile its index.
The publishing of the Diary began in 1995, to be completed in 2005. Madame Apostolescu acknowledged the overwhelming emotion that filled her, when she finished the transcript of the last notebook written by Marie Bashkirtseff. That young woman who had never crossed her path was an essential element of her daily life for a very long time.
She also confessed her relief at fulfilling what she considered a duty of remembrance –not revealing her pride at the magnitude of the work she had done, not a word of complaint about the endeavours this duty had taken her. It was only the satisfaction of making a wish come true, that one wish dreamt by Marie Bashkirtseff: « If I do not die young, I wish to be seen as a great artist, but if I happen to die young I would like to have my diary published… »
Madame Apostolescu materialized the publishing project of madame Bashkirtseff, Marie's mother, –partially fulfilled by André Theuriet. They will be, from now on, the three most important figures that made Marie's diary available for the general public.
At the same time of the comprehensive publishing of the manuscript, Madame Apostolescu began the creation of the catalogue of Marie's artwork, as well as a comprehensive bibliography. She also dedicated to The Marie Bashkirtseff Circle of Friends she created in 1985 with Michel Fleury, in which she assumed the functions of secretary general and, later, that of president.
Some administrative duties were the writing of the liaison bulletin (« bulletin de liaison »), the promotion of the diary volumes, the participation at cultural demonstrations (a broadcasting on the Courtoisie Radio dedicated to Marie, a walk-conference at Jony, Marshal Canrobert's old property where Marie used to stay), the maintenance of the mausoleum and the organization of the commemoration at the cemetery of Passy each autumn.
Modest and discreet as always, madame Apostolescu would receive each admirer at the mausoleum threshold – overflowing with flowers and music in a way to show respect to Marie's wish. Then, each of them was accompanied to the crypt where, at candlelight, an orthodox priest usually officiated.
With discretion and sensitivity, Madame Apostolescu knew how to overcome adversity when it appeared throughout a lifetime. She also used to share the fruits of her readings, since she believed that nothing would intensify intellectual satisfaction more than sharing it with others. She agreed with Marie Bashkirtseff on the love for books: «It is a true passion what I have with books, I order them, I count them, I contemplate them…», stated Marie. Madame Apostolescu had the habit to recover, sort and carefully cover with a transparent the books of the different libraries in her house.
Her tastes were many: History, art, poetry, the novel were among some of her preferences. But, she also had a passion for classical music and botany.
Brahms's concert for violin and orchestra deeply inspired her, as well as the Requiem.
Not the tiniest beings from the vegetal world were unknown to her; she cited their scientific names with accuracy – with no pedantry. Her knowledge came natural to her: she loved, she knew; it was that simple.
Animals accompanied her, especially cats and big dogs, closely connected by complicity and tenderness.
Madame, those of us who knew you, will for always keep the memory of your person and your personality very vividly.
We express to you all our gratitude for the prestige you have given to our Circle, and for the work you have done.
Be certain of the acknowledgment of Marie Bashkirtseff's Admirers for your promotion of her diary.
From this moment on, your name is linked to Marie's glory.
President of Marie Bashkirtseff’s Circle of friends
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