NEWS - Clarence Bicknell & Émile Cartailhac - archaeologists and the best of friends

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

Two new documents are published on today bothmile Cartailhac Musum de Toulouse on Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) and the eminent French archaeologist Émile Cartailhac (1845-1921) the French prehistorian and cave-art expert (portrait, right).

In 2007 Pierre Machu, then Conservateur de Patrimoine, Direction des Musées de France, Inspection Générale des Musées in Paris, wrote an article for "Antiquités Nationales" on Bicknell and Cartailhac. This paper highlights 63 sheets of rubbings and squeezes by Bicknell of rock engravings held in the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale in St-Germain-en-Laye, a collection which had not been analysed before Machu. It becomes apparent from letters between Bicknell and Cartailhac, who had become friends more than just colleagues, that these 63 rubbings had been made by Bicknell for Cartailhac "to order". The paper draws expertly on documents provided to Pierre Machu from the Bicknell family collection (especially the Casa Fontanalba visitors' book) and the work notebooks written by Bicknell and kept at Genoa University. Pierre Machu having given his accord, we publish the complete paper here with thanks and respect.

Pierre Machu also informed us of letters between Bicknell and Cartailhac from this same period which he had located in two museums; he subsequently transcribed all the letters he had found and made them available to us to share with you. Alongside the exchange of views about the rock engravings are comments from both men on travel arrangements, weather, health, death, the First World War and even a person who both greatly disliked. In November 2014 I compiled the Machu transcripts together with my comments on the people mentioned in the letter, and you can download it here. I think these are among the documents which reveal the most about Clarence Bicknell, the man. I have also logged all the dates given in the letters in a chronology of Bicknell's life (more detailed then the one on this website) which will support Valerie Browne Lester who is currently researching a new biography of Clarence Bicknell to be published in advance of the 2018 centenary celebrations.

Article in "Antiquités Nationales" (tome 38, 2007) on Bicknell and Cartailhac by Pierre Machu.

Letters between Bicknell and Cartailhac transcribed by Pierre Machu.


FaLang translation system by Faboba