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Filiger's career as a painter (laying stress on the word 'career') only lasted three or four years, from, say 1891 to 1895. After 1895 his output, never very great, declined dramatically. I think we can attribute this to Joseph Pobla, the major source of his inspiration, growing older. This portrait of him was done (according to Cariou) in 1895 when he was thirteen (Cariou rather oddly says that they had met two years earlier, when he also suggests that Pobla was the naked boy praying in the painting of 1891, when he was 9).

Charles Filiger: Young Breton wearing clogs, gouache on card, 39.5 x 16.5, 1895

There is a nice friendly letter from Filiger to Pobla, the only one we have, in 1901, when he was presumably 19 and had become a sailor. A Virgin and Child done according to Cariou after 1900 used a Renaissance painting by Angelo Bronzino for the boy's head but (at least in my opinion) it lacks the power and conviction of the paintings that featured Pobla. Thereafter he abandoned this style of painting and seems to have sunk ever deeper into his alcoholism.

Charles Filiger: Virgin and Child, gouache and pencil on paper, 37.5 cm diameter, 1900-06

De la Rochefoucauld, quite understandably and with no bad feelings on either side, stopped his pension in 1900. However, Filiger's father had died in 1894. His brother Paul and sister Désirée seem to have decided even then that he couldn't be trusted with his part of the inheritance and got him to agree to receive it in the form of regular payments every three months. This eventually resulted in a long, anguished correspondence with Paul which makes for painful reading. He left Le Pouldu in 1901, beginning a long period of wandering from place to place, drunk and in poverty, staying in hotels but trying to find a care home ('hospice') or monastery that would be willing to take him in. Paul died in 1914 (apparently from suicide but Cariou tells us little about this) and Filiger's affairs were taken in hand by Désirée, who arranged for an innkeeper, Francine Le Guellec, in the Breton town of Tregunc, to provide him with food and lodging. When Désirée died shortly afterwards she divided her own inheritance between Charles and her niece, Paul's daughter, Anna, confirming the arrangement with the Le Guellecs. Filiger now had a certain level of security. The Le Guellec family moved in 1915 to the little town of Plougastel-Daoulas, taking Filiger with them as 'part of the furniture.'

During all this time he continued to paint, but his style changed radically and he refused to show his work or sell it except, it seems, when he needed money for drink. According to the Le Guellecs' son, Armand:

'If by chance an American client came to see Filiger and he sold one of his canvasses he never sobered up during the whole time that the money lasted and he gave great joy to the children of the village of Tregunc who fought each other for the loose change Filiger threw to them. I remember posing, dressed in a red sailor-fisherman's jumper with a red beret on my head. An American bought this portrait a few days later and the festival [la foire] lasted a good long time. There was one person who didn't enjoy this great circus, that was my mother who, I can assure you, was well able to bring him back to his senses.' 

I don't know if this portrait of Armand Le Guellec still exists. Nothing like it from this period is reproduced in the book.

I think Armand is referring to the period in Tregunc. It seems that in Plougastel-Daoulas he closed himself up in his room, painting feverishly a series of very small watercolours, brightly coloured with complicated, precisely worked out geometrical patters and numerous annotations commenting on what he was trying to do. A little girl, who sometimes brought him his food, was later to say: 'He hardly ever left his room ... He was always busy drawing or writing or, lying motionless on his bed, he stared at the emptiness of the ceiling. He had clear, terrifying, "demonic" eyes and a look of unbearable intensity that seemed to go right through you.' A priest, Pierre Tuarze said on the basis of what he had been told: 'As he grew older he neglected the most elementary rules of hygiene and gave forth a nauseous smell, and the children kept as far away from him as possible.' Armand Le Guellec said: 'Filiger couldn't abide the clergy or nuns, he shouted abuse at them on every possible occasion.' There was, however, an exception, the abbé Henri Guillerm, a distinguished musicologist and collector of Breton folk songs with whom he had many long conversations and who either bought or was given a number of the late paintings.

Armand Le Guellec gives an interesting other side to this generally grim picture:

'He had his room with a sloped office desk on which he painted. When I was young I went in there many times to watch him. I never knew him doing anything other than studies for stained glass, [masculine] saints' heads, [feminine] saints, angels and geometry. Also lions' heads ... I stayed for whole hours next to his sloped desk, never tired of watching him manipulate ruler, compass, set square.' 

These late works were discovered immediately after the war, in 1946, by the theorist of surrealism André Breton, at a time when, with Jean Dubuffet, he was beginning to celebrate what was called at the time 'art brut' - or more usually nowadays, 'outsider art.' They are as different as could be from the paintings of the 1890s inspired by the beauty of Joseph Pobla. There is however one constant that binds them together. This savage old anticlerical drunk, in both his phases, produced some of the most serene, beautiful and gentle religious paintings of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.