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Autographed congratulatory letter on a postcard to René Baschet upon his appointment as Commander of the Legion d’honneur with a “real photo” of his home “Bigné” which he referred to as the “Ermitage” after the death of his wife in 1908 on the verso and signed twice (verso and recto), St. Avit, June 4, 1928 on the letter and again on the photograph, in May, 1928.

On the written side:

Saint-Avit on June 4, 1928


Deeply touched soul (and even colleague) of such great and precious award, I address to the very honored Director of our great French René, the warm expression of my very grateful thanks and of my very faithful memory!


I tell you with all my heart from your devoted.


Francis Planté


P.S. thank you also for the kind _______ of the two beautiful ______.

On the photograph:

Ermitage in April, Francis Plante, May -1927-

Planté (1839-1934) was eighty-nine years old at the time of the signing of this photograph and two years before his complete retirement from performance.  His St. Avit chateau was seen in 1880 and purchased in 1881 ostensibly as a hunting lodge.  From 1861, he wintered on the Southwest coast of France in Mont de Marson and summered in Paris when he was not on tour. He built a large stone residence there for his family in 1876. His uncle had been Mayor of Mont de Marson in the 1850’s and after his death several aunts remained and the pianist became part of the fabric of the town.  The home in St. Avit, “Bigné” was slightly north of Mont de Marson and to the West was a work in progress which began in earnest in 1896.  Interestingly, Planté served as Mayor of the town from 1892-1912 and then temporarily again in 1915 as his successor was drafted into the French Army and sent to the front.  Planté over the years enlarged the home and then created beautiful gardens to surround the home.  After his wife’s death in 1908, it became his primary residence and as he had sons, he referred to it as the “Ermitage”.  The home was ostensibly a hunting lodge and a place to bring fellow hunters who invited him to their chateaus for his favorite pastime. Interestingly, Planté who owned massive property surrounding his lands was a conservationist and studied breeding techniques insured that the available game on his land was plentiful.  It was in the Ermitage that he made his only series of recordings in July, 1928 a month after this letter was written. The home was his final residence and he passed away there in 1934. 

Planté was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 1875, the highest rank in the order. His friend René Baschet, (1860-1949) was the Directeur of the “Galerie Contemporaine” revue and  “l’Illustration” both of which had been started by his father Ludovic. René was appointed Commandeur of the Legion d’Honneur on February 6, 1928, so the news for which this congratulatory follows is a few months late. Interestingly, “Galerie Contemporaine” wrote a feature story about the Planté recordings several months later.

The pianist who had become fabulously wealthy with his many decades of concert tours  was known to be very house proud of his country chateau.  Interestingly at one time had been labeled a cottage.