Sale 22JK02 | Lot 322

[WORLD WAR II] "We Remember:" The Important Tribute Albums Presented to Lawrence R. Kelly, an American Casualty of the Liberation.

Catalogue: The Collection of Jay I. Kislak sold to benefit the Kislak Family Foundation
[WORLD WAR II]  "We Remember:" The Important Tribute Albums Presented to Lawrence R. Kelly, an American Casualty of the Liberation.

Lot Details

Lot 322
[WORLD WAR II] "We Remember:" The Important Tribute Albums Presented to Lawrence R. Kelly, an American Casualty of the Liberation.
[St. Cloud, France: circa August 1946]. Two large volumes comprising approximately 710 leaves of original artwork, vintage photographs, prints, letters, over 1000 signatures and various ephemera all in tribute of Kelly. The texts mostly in French with English translations provided. 12 5/8 x 10 1/2 inches (32.5 x 27 cm). A title page reads in French and English "Lawrence R. Kelly. Symbol of the American Soldier/Liberator of France" and a manuscript copyright page attributes the work to pharmacist Marcelle Thomas (discussed below). Finely bound in red morocco over vellum boards signed "L. Leveque & R. Mondange/ Paris 1946", the covers are paneled in gilt with the text "Saint-Cloud France 'We Remember' To Lawrence R. Kelly" surrounding the arms of Saint-Cloud stamped in gilt within a blue morocco inlay, the rear covers inlaid with an American flag in red, white and blue morocco with gilt stamped stars beneath, the spines stamped in gilt with "25 AOUT 1944" between gilt rules, a central red, white and blue morocco circular device is inlaid at the center of each spine and surrounded by gilt stamped stars, all edges gilt, the inside cover of volume I with a etched metal plate depicting the chains of Nazism broken by a sword, fine stenciled endpapers with a gilt star motif, each volume housed in matching paper covered slipcases. The lot accompanied by the Purple Heart Medal awarded to Kelly. Very well preserved but with a some thumbsoiling to margins and a few early leaves becoming sprung, some very minor spotting or offsetting, a few scratches to spines, the vellum lightly thumbsoiled, upper cover edge of volume II with an unobtrusive red stain likely from slipcase, the vellum lifting causing a split to the flag designs on rear boards, chips to paper covered slipcases.

AN ASTOUNDING TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN AMERICAN SOLDIER FROM A GRATEFUL FRANCE UPON LIBERATION. LAWRENCE KELLY, ACCIDENTALLY WOUNDED ON AUGUST 25th 1944, THE FIRST DAY OF LIBERATION, BECOMES A SYMBOL OF FRANCO-AMERICAN GOOD WILL IN THE FINAL DAYS OF WORLD WAR TWO IN TRIBUTE ALBUMS ENVISIONED BY THE PHARMACIST WHO NURSED HIM.

A poem in the first pages of these remarkable volumes announces what will follow within: "They came so simply/proud to give their lives/or suffering stoically/to bring us our liberty/in the name of Frenchmen, thank you, KELLY/that shall not be forgotten." This is followed by dedication leaves in both French and English reading "From the Inhabitants of Saint Cloud to Staff Sergeant Lawrence R. Kelly who landed in France on D-Day and was the first American Liberator of their City where he was Grievously Wounded on August 25th 1944 and to the Glorious American Army as a Token of our Heartfelt Gratitude."

What follows is an extraordinary array of artistic and manuscript tributes to Kelly including TWO RARE VINTAGE PRESS PRINTS OF THE D-DAY LANDING AT NORMANDY BY ROBERT CAPA AND ROBERT SARGENT (6 x 8 3/4 inches), and a group of about twelve related images from the invasion; original artwork by MARIE LAURENCIN, KEES VAN DONGEN, GEORGES LEROUX, PAUL LANDOWSKI, GUSTAVE LORAIN, GEORGE EDMUND DARGOUGE, OCTAVE GUILLONNET, RENE CREVEL and minor listed artists including Albert Decaris, Louis Roger, Henri Morin, Claude Maurel and others.
Also within are numerous personalized letters including one from noted scholar ANDRE CHEVRILLON who recounts what happened to Kelly that day: "Paris and the suburbs had just risen in arms against the oppressors. The Germans were in full retreat, but a few were left here and there hidden in the cellars of firing from the roofs. In the general excitement of that day an unfortunate fireman mistaking you for an enemy, as you were drawing near the bridge, sent several shots at you with his Tommy gun. You were then carried to Mademoiselle Thomas's pharmacy at the bottom of the Rue Dailly and were taken care of there. You were severely wounded. You remained several days in hospital in France, a few weeks in England, and then were able to be taken back to America, again to enter a hospital." Despite all efforts to keep Kelly alive including numerous operations in which plates were implanted in Kelly's head and both legs - Kelly reportedly had 36 other wounds to his body and died on August 9th 1946 just hours before he was to receive the volumes as a gift from the people of Saint Cloud.
Also of note are notes or quotations from composers such as former St. Cloud resident CHARLES GOUNOD, OLIVER MESSIAEN (large musical quotation), FLORENT SCHMITT, Scientist IRENE JOLIET-CURIE, and others including COLETTE, poet PAUL GERALDY, JEAN JOLIVET, playwright PAIL NIVOIX, actor FERNAND GRAVET; a letter and vintage photograph from the mother of French Resistance leader and Reseau Morhange founder Marcel Taillandier, who was murdered by the Gestapo in 1944; letters from ambassadors of Franco-American diplomacy such Marquis de Chambrun (great-grandson of Lafayette), Marquis de Grasse, Comtesse de Longvilliers (nee Rochambeau), etc.
The album contains dozens of sheets filled with the signatures of various groups including the Ministry of Air, officers and soldiers from Leclerc Division, the Coty Perfumery, the Michelin factory, a fashion design from Nina Ricci, etc.
The albums closes with a long letter from Marcelle Thomas "On this radiant summer day, at the head of the American troops, you rush to greet Paris. Five dreadful shots: you drop down. The splendid warrior who arose from out of the sea on D-Day, came to his journey's end on the pavement of Saint-Cloud. You are carried to the nearest pharmacy: mine. You suffer terribly but not a cry, not a moan. It is the gratefulness and tender love of a whole corner of France which is throbbing in this book: Royal Princesses and poor old people in the asylum, artists, writers and workmen, shopkeepers and clerks, officers and soldiers ... little children ... famous men and women, all of them, want to send you a token of their love and remembrance."
Lawrence Russell Kelly (1902-1946) was born and died in Altoona, Pennsylvania. At 15 in 1917, Kelly lied about his age and fought for eight months in France in WWI and was wounded twice. Re-enlisting at 40 in 1943, Kelly jumped into France on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne. Wounded, Kelly was subsequently transferred to field artillery and was in an advanced position on August 25th, 1944, the day Major Morel-Deville's column was to enter Paris over the Pont Saint-Cloud. Determined to be the first American to enter Paris, Kelly commandeered a jeep and headed over the bridge ahead of all others. A French fireman at the other end of the bridge, made nervous by the rapidly approaching vehicle and certain it contained German soldiers, emptied his newly acquired German Mauser at the jeep hitting Kelly six times. Kelly fell from the jeep just 50 yards from the entry to Paris. Carried to the pharmacy of Mademoiselle Marcelle Thomas, the 23 year old pharmacist whose family owned the building in which she worked, Kelly impressed her and all others by not crying out in his suffering and by report emptied his pack of cigarettes to those around him and instructed them not to blame the unfortunate Frenchman who had shot him. After being transported to several hospitals in France and England, Kelly was sent home to Altoona where he continued to undergo surgery after surgery to attend to his 36 wounds. Kelly and Thomas would exchange over twenty letters in the interim between his return to Altoona and his death and it was the industrious Thomas who set out to assemble these albums as a tribute to the event, reaching out to the thousands who participated in its creation. The albums were presented to the American Ambassador in Paris in August 1946 and were then sent by ship to Washington, where they were intended to be presented to Kelly in a distinguished ceremony. But on the eve of that ceremony Kelly, much weakened from his many surgeries, suffered a heart attack and died that night, a full two years after sustaining the injuries in Saint-Cloud. Kelly was awarded the Purple Heart for his valor in service of his country which is sold with the tribute albums.
Along with the Purple Heart medal, the volumes are accompanied by the story of Kelly's shooting as recounted in Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's 1965 Is Paris Burning?. Kelly was further memorialized in Saint-Cloud by a plaque on the Pont Saint-Cloud and a park in a residential area of the town is named in his honor.

A STUNNING TRIBUTE TO ONE MAN WHO BECAME THE SYMBOL OF A GRATEFUL NATION.


C The Collection of Jay I. Kislak sold to benefit the Kislak Family Foundation

Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for $28,350 (includes buyer's premium)

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Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for $28,350 (includes buyer's premium)

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Catalogue Info

The Collection of Jay I. Kislak sold to benefit the Kislak Family Foundation

Thu, Sep 15, 2022 at 10am EDT