- One letter incomplete (ends in mid-sentence and therefore not signed); some yellowing and sl. occas. foxing; some marginal tears on folds.
= Highly interesting set of letters by the infamous Dutch dancer and double agent who was executed by a French firing squad in 1917 after she was convicted of spying for Germany during World War I. The letters provide an insight into her personal and professional life shortly after the onset of the war. From the second half of 1914 to sometime in 1915 Mata Hari lived in the Amsterdam Victoria Hotel. She had fled from Berlin and, after a failed attempt to reach Paris, settled in Amsterdam. There she found a wealthy lover, a banker named Will van der Schalk, to whom she presented herself as a Russian refugee. He provided for her maintenance, while she tried to find a position as a dancer. While in Holland, Mata Hari came into in contact with the artist Piet van der Hem (1885-1971), who saw her regularly and in the autumn of 1914 drew and painted several portraits of the dancer, and who, judging from the letters, was to design one of her dancing costumes. Their relationship does not seem to have been strictly platonic. As most of the letters are not dated, the true order in which they were written partly remains uncertain. This, however, does not affect the information and clear sentiments expressed by Mata Hari in her messages to "Mon Cher Ami", "Mon Piet", "Mon Cher Piet" about her dancing career (i.a. accepting a position with the The Hague opera house, where she is to make her début with her "tableau de Lancret"), about the journalists ("ces cochons de journalistes") who wrote presumptuous reviews of her performances in December (eagerly recounting a literal "faux-pas" in The Hague due to a hole in the stage floor hidden under the carpet) and about the sort of audience in Arnhem ("zeer aristocratique" and "mensen die nooit iets hebben gezien en die alles leelijk vinden wat uit het buitenland komt"). Concerning a portrait of her that Van der Hem was working on she is equally clear: "Vous est-il possible de finir ce joli dessin sans chapeau? Ou dois-je encore poser", and on his work in general she writes: "Je weet, Piet, dat ik je zien wil daar, waar ik denk dat je het kunt brengen - en dat is heel ver. Ik zelf ben eene zeer ambitieuze vrouw (...)" and more in particular: "Ik dacht werkelijk dat je liever moderne "etudes" maakte" and "Je crois sentir que le 18ième siecle ne vous enchante pas. Dites le moi franchement (...) si vous n'aimez pas à continuer ce dessin. Soyez assez gentil et envoyez celui de Lancret à Madame Koppel, qu'elle puisse faire le costume". About her plans to move to The Hague she writes: "J'irai habiter la Haye dans une huitaine" (a relocation which eventually happened much later) and shortly mentions her (ex?) lover Van der Schalk. Mata Hari signs off her earlier letters with "Veel liefs" and even "Je t'embrasse et t'aime", but over the ensuing the weeks her tone becomes noticeably less loving. On the first of January she writes: "Je comprends très bien qu'une femme pardonne l'amant dont elle depend, mais puisque je vous ai aimé uniquement pour vous même, je ne vous pardonne pas. Je suis trop fière (...). Allons Piet. J'habite trop longtemps à Paris, et je connais la vie (...). Si vous vous amusez comme cela, tant mieux et mes meilleurs compliments. Marguerite." Provenance: the letters were used by Van der Hem as payment to his lawyer, who was the father of the present owner. SEE ILLUSTRATION PLATE XCV.