P U B L I C A T I O N S > F
R A N C E S S T I L L M A N ' S E
U R O P E D I A R Y
I..........Going from Here to There
II..........Mishap in Milan
XII..........Paris in the Fall
"Recall me a moment, please, not when visiting
museums, but going from here to there on the streets."
(Letter from Spanish painter, Soler)
Thursday evening, May 8th
The ship's lounge is quite deserted except for a few groups clustered
here and there and some tables of card players. Most of the young
people are in the bar having farewell drinks, and the rest of
the passengers are in their cabins packing their bags. Ary and
I made short work of our two suitcases, and we will leave the
little canvas bag until the morning.
I am terribly excited and my head is pounding. I dread the thought
of reaching Paris tomorrow -- I would like to push it off a while
longer. There is something almost unbearable about facing the
moment when a dream of so many years becomes a reality.
Friday, May 9th
How can I possibly describe today! The sight of Southampton, then
the trip across the channel and the outlines of the French shore
gradually taking shape. LeHavre late in the afternoon —my
knees shook so that I could hardly walk down the gang-plank. A
confusion of travelers and baggage —porters looking like
toy soldiers in their trim, bright-colored uniforms —little
stands on wheels displaying fruit and cellophane bags of hard
candies and French chocolate (my first purchase in francs!) —the
first shock and delight of hearing a foreign language spoken all
around me, the fun of translating the signs on the walls of the
pier, thanks to my High School French.
Then the train ride through the countryside, past little villages
with red roofed houses and ancient stone Churches, patches of
garden, neatly trimmed shrubs, long stretches of road bordered
with stately trees.
Finally the Gare Saint Lazare —the cries and crowds and
bustle of the station — our luggage hoisted out of the compartment
window, the suitcases checked. Then out into the street, the little
canvas bag in hand. It was nine-thirty and our first concern was
to find a hotel for the night. Ary asked "Shall we take a
taxi?" and I said, "Let's do just the way you would
if you were here alone. After all, this is your home-coming after
so many years."
So Ary found a bus bound for the Left Bank and we boarded it.
That ride through the streets of Paris — it was all so strange
but at the same time so familiar to me — as if a room-full
of Utrillos and Toulouse Lautrecs and Dufys had stepped down from
museum walls and we were riding through them.
Then we were on Boulevard Montparnasse. We alighted
in front of the Dome, the Rotonde, the Coupole — the cafes
which formed the setting for so many of the tales Ary has told
me of Paris of the late 20s and early 30s. The tables outside
were crowded. As we passed the Dome we heard a shout "Ary!"
and there were three of Ary's old cronies, sitting at a table.
They didn't seem very surprised to see us, they just moved over
and asked us to sit down with them, as if it had been twenty weeks
rather than twenty years since they had last seen Ary.
But we were tired and hungry, so we left them and walked on down
the Boulevard in search of a hotel. It was a weary march, for
most of the places were dirty and depressing. Finally, however,
we found a room that was reasonably clean. We left the little
canvas bag there and set out for the restaurant which the hotel
clerk had recommended. It was an attractive place, with the tables
set on a series or terraces, and a sort of garden below with canary
birds in cages. We had soup and an omelet and white wine. The
wine made me drowsy, and I slept soundly through the night in
our shabby hotel room, although Ary said the baby crying next
door kept him awake.
Saturday, May 10th
Another round of neighborhood hotels this morning, and we wound
up at the Hotel Lutece, on a quiet little street not far from
the Dome. We followed our usual formula in room-hunting —I
made for the beds, to inspect the mattresses, and Ary went to
the window, to look out at the view. I had decided to be firm
about my rights on this trip, but my heart melted when I gazed
out at the broad expanse of gray sky, the roofs of Montparnasse,
and the crooked little street below.
So we took the room and Ary fetched our bags and we got ourselves
settled. Then lunch at the same restaurant —it looked less
glamorous by daylight— and a ride in the metro, the famous
subway of Paris, to La Cite, the oldest part of the city, dating
back before the Christian era. First a walk through the immense
flower market, stretching out for blocks, alive with flaming color.
There were colors I had never known fiery shades or scarlet
and crimson, deep amethyst blue, odd smoky tones of blue-black,
creamy white tinged with amber. You wanted to fill your arms full
-- you wanted never to forget this sensation of color piled upon
color -- you felt that if you only had a paint-brush you too could
be a Monet or a Renoir.
The Sainte-Chapelle came next —the little cathedral, pure
Gothic in style, which is in the court of the Palais de Justice.
It is a tiny church— a marvel of grace. The lower part is
beautiful in design, with its lovely curved arches, but it seems
to be merely a prelude to the greater beauty which awaits one
when, after climbing a narrow spiral stairway which wends its
way endlessly upward, one emerges into the upper chapel. Narrow,
soaring in height, with clusters of slender, delicate columns,
it is a pure gem of Gothic architecture. The walls are typically
French, painted gold and blue and rose-red, with decorations in
fleur-de-lis pattern. Across the two sides are tall, straight
windows of exquisitely colored stained glass, rich red and blue.
High up over the front portal there is another window, huge and
round and fantastically beautiful, with stained glass sections
set into a pattern formed by a curving design of dark metal. As
we sat there the warm afternoon sunlight fell on the window, and
gradually the glowing colors seemed to stand out as if in bas
relief; one had the illusion of seeing a jeweler's velvet case,
with rare gems set on the black velvet in dazzling design.....
After the Sainte-Chapelle a promenade along the bank of the Seine,
past the row of little book stalls which have become a landmark
of Paris. Books and old prints of every description, and the booksellers
looking as if they had lived so long with musty volumes and manuscripts
that they have taken on something of the same character themselves.
Then an aperitif at a sidewalk cafe, followed by dinner at a nearby
restaurant, and back to the hotel, footsore, dazed, but happy.
Sunday, May 11th
Slept late, and after lunch took one of the gay looking French
buses to the Louvre. I told Ary that like every other tourist
I wanted to see the Mona Lisa first. When we reached the spot
who should be standing there but Dr. M and his wife, our table-mates
from the ship. We were all so amused, for Dr. M's parting words
to us had been the time-worn cliche "Meet you in front of
Mona Lisa." The Ms are about to leave for Rome, where
Dr. M will spend the summer studying at the American Academy.
They made us promise to look them up when we get to Rome.
We spent just a brief time at the Louvre —this was just
an initial visit and we will be going back there many times. I
believe that nowhere in the world can one get such a wide and
detailed panorama of the culture of the various civilizations
throughout the ages. Today I carried away with me varied impressions
—the Egyptian sculptured pieces, so monumental in conception;
the Coptic (Egyptian Byzantine) embroideries, darkly rich in color
harmony; the Winged Victory, dramatically placed at the head of
a broad, sweeping flight of stairs, and the Venus de Milo, so
infinitely more beautiful than the reproductions ever reveal.
It has amazing perfection of form and it seems to me to represent
the ultimate in aesthetic grace. These two pieces, however, are
the only ones of the Greek that deeply stirred me. I am more moved
by art expression which is more spontaneous and emotional.
From the Louvre we wandered over to the Tuileries, vastly charming
with its big flower beds and velvet green leaves, its red and
white balloons and carousel and marionette show, and the dozens
of children playing about under the watchful eyes of fond mammas
or papas or nursemaids.
Then to a cafe for a Dubonnet, and later on, dinner at a restaurant
in the Latin quarter. The excitement, the wine, and the unaccustomed
food were too much for me; I was miserably sick all night and
poor Ary was at his wits' end to know what to do for me.
Monday, May 12th
Ary declared this morning that we must find a restaurant where
we will eat regularly. We have been too adventuresome in our eating.
In Montparnasse one finds a restaurant where the food is good
and the prices low and one dines there every night. There was
a little place not far from the Dome called La Corbeille, where
he used to eat when he lived here formerly, and he would see if
it is still in existence.
He came back later to tell me that he found La Corbeille and it
looks exactly as it did twenty years ago. The same oil-cloth covered
tables, the same elevated platform at the back of the room where
the proprietor's wife sits surveying the customers and keeping
an eye on the blond waitress, meanwhile mixing the salad, pouring
the wine into small carafes, figuring out "l'addition",
making change, and calling out orders to her husband, who is the
The place and the atmosphere are the same, Ary said, and probably
will continue as they are for many years. But here as in so many
or the old haunts there are new faces. Old Madame N, who was so
stern looking but always so kind to Ary is gone, and in her place
at the back of the room is a buxom young woman. She and her husband,
who is the chef, are now owners of the establishment.
We went to the restaurant for dinner this evening, and it was
just as Ary had described it, only smaller and more crowded. Two
rows of long tables, with only enough space between for the blond
waitress to scurry in and out. But Monsieur the patron is a good
cook, and we had a wonderful thick vegetable soup, savory smelling
and delicious to taste, little minute steals, and for dessert
the luscious native strawberries, huge and sweet and covered with
There is an extra charge for napkins, so if you
intend to be a regular customer you ask to have a drawer assigned
to you in the cabinet in the front of the room where you can keep
your napkin. Once a week you turn it in and receive a fresh one.
The clientele seems to consist of Frenchmen of the middle class
—shop-owners or white collar workers, and American artists
or GI students. We met several artists whom we know from New York
and they were glad to see us and begged for news from home.
On the way out Ary stopped to speak to the proprietor's wife.
She told Ary that Madame N had died, and her husband had retired
to the country to live with his children. Ary, touched at the
news of the old lady's passing, spoke of her kindness to him —
"More than once she trusted me for a meal, and on one occasion
she even insisted on lending me some money." The young woman
eyed Ary suspiciously. "But Monsieur" she protested,
"We do not extend credit!" Ary reassured her, and she
seemed relieved when he paid the bill, which was amazingly low.
Wednesday, May 14th
After lunch today to the Place de la Concorde to see the French
Impressionist paintings at the Jeu de Paume. Such a charming,
intimate museum this is, set aside by the Louvre to serve as background
for the very personal style of the Impressionist painters.
Mrs. H. had warned us not to go to the Jeu de Paume unless it
was a sunny day. I realized what she meant when I saw how the
sunlight streaming through the windows brought out all the subtleties
of light and color which were the main preoccupation of the Impressionist
They were all there — Renoir and Monet and Pissarro and
Siseley; fine Degas portraits and groups of figures, an earlier
phase of his work less familiar to me than his ballet dancers
and nudes in pastel; and magnificent portraits, figure compositions
and still-lifes by Monet. We see too little of Monet in the United
States —only a few canvases in the larger museums. Today
I got to know him better and I am full of admiration for his vigor,
his decisiveness, his vitality, and his skillful handling of pigment.
I find him much more akin to the Spanish painters, especially
in his mastery in handling black, than to the Impressionists with
whom he was grouped.
Afterwards we walked down the Faubourg St. Honore, to attend a
conference featuring Malraux, Faulkner and Madariaga, which I
had read about yesterday in my French newspaper. As usual however
I had grasped the general idea of the article but had missed the
salient point. The conference had taken place yesterday! So we
sat at a sidewalk cafe and consoled ourselves with Dubonnet.
Thursday, May 15th
We sat in the Luxembourg Gardens this morning. It was such a lovely
day -- the air so soft and gentle. It seemed to have a textural
quality, as if you could reach out and touch it with your fingers.
This is part of the femininity of Paris. Everything
here is curved and rounded, in contrast to the masculinity of
New York with its straight lines and its angular sky-scrapers
towering into the sky. And the streets, the buildings, the parks
are all scaled in proportion to the human figure, giving them
an intimate quality. There are no giants towering above you to
arouse in you a sense of your own impotence; you are at ease and
you feel at one with your surroundings.
We have had this feeling of tranquility as we have wandered about
the streets during the past days. This is definitely a world for
people who are not in a hurry and one's enjoyment of Paris is
in direct proportion to one's ability to adjust himself to its
tempo. Even the Metro is not forbidding --the trains seem like
toy cars, and they move to a French rhythm.
Friday. May 16th
Breakfast at the Coupole this morning -- the croissants are good
and the coffee not too bad and one can have one's choice of a
dozen newspapers to read. Usually we find a few Americans there
and we pass around the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune and
exchange a word or two about the happenings at home.
Then a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens to the
Musee de Cluny -- the famous museum of French mediaeval art. Here
are collected many thousands of articles both artistic and utilitarian,
having to do with the culture of the time of the Crusades and
the period immediately following. There is no end to the objects,
from suits of armor to chastity belts, from tableware of silver
to medallions studded with precious jewels. The building itself
was formerly the Paris residence of the Bishop of Cluny. It is
centuries old, with moldering walls and gargoyles and one Gothic
statue still standing high on the outside, toward the entrance.
Inside, the entire museum is being '"done over", walls
painted, hangings rearranged, ornaments planed in glass cases.
Quite a contrast, Ary said, from the way he recalled it. Formerly
everything was jumbled together without any regard for effective
display. He liked it better that way -- there was something exciting,
he says, in the lavish disorder in which all these rich treasures
of Mediaeval art were strewn about. One could go back again and
again and each time make thrilling new discoveries.
Ary's sentiments were echoed by a talkative old guard who followed
us around from room to room. He was a red-cheeked, mustachioed
old fellow with a terrific garlic breath, and he attached himself
to us when he saw our interest in the various objects. "It
is America that is ruining our country!'" he complained.
"The director visits America, and comes back with all these
The fact is however that there have been very few visitors at
the museum, and perhaps the new sense of showmanship is just what
is needed to attract the public. Our own Metropolitan Museum in
New York was thronged during the exhibition of French tapestries
several years ago, and the highlight of the exhibition was the
lovely Lady and Unicorn series. I doubt that many visitors from
America know that these tapestries, so exquisite in color and
texture and so incomparable in the grace of their design, are
in the Musee de Cluny collection...
There was no dearth of visitors at the Notre Dame, which was our
next stop. One busload after another drew up during the short
time we were there, and we were surrounded by tourists -- tourists
with cameras, tourists with sketch pads, tourists poring over
guide books. Inside the Cathedral however the crowds were silent,
awed by its grandeur, its dimness, its high vaulted ceilings,
and the rich intensity of its stained glass windows. Under the
shifting play of light they are like living things...
We had lunch at a students' café on one of the side streets
off the Boulevard Saint Michel. It was late and most of the tables
were empty; by the time we had finished we were the only people
in the place with the exception of a swarthy Arab with black hair
and beard, in robe and turban of white, who was lunching with
a young student.
Saturday, May 17th
To the Musee Guimet this afternoon. It is devoted entirely to
Oriental art. How beautiful the Cambodian sculptured figures are,
and what an inner ecstasy they portray! It was such a contrast
to the Greek which we saw last week at the Louvre --the Greek
so masterly in its idealization of the human face and form, but
depicting only the surface, whereas the Oriental searches deep
within the human soul in his passion for discovering the essence
Monday, May 19th
It was such a bright, sunny day —a rarity in Paris—
and we decided to have breakfast in the Luxembourg Gardens. When
we arrived there, however, we found that the little stand wasn't
open yet. So we walked to a cafe on the other side of the park,
where we stood at the bar and had coffee and "tartines",
the long pieces of hard-crusted bread spread thick with butter.
From there to the American Express and then to the Madeleine,
which the guide book says was built by Napoleon as a "'Temple
of Glory to the soldiers of the Grand Army", but which was
decreed a Catholic Church under the Restoration. It is in Greek
style, which is quite alien to the general architecture of Paris,
but which harmonizes well with the Chamber of Deputies, facing
it on the other side of the Place de la Concorde. Inside the church
there are many statues, some of them quite beautiful in the Greek
manner, but so cold in comparison with the mysticism and the deeply
religious spirit of the Gothic. However, the over-all effect is
one of gracious serenity, especially the exterior view —
the harmonious spacing of the church, the stretch of wide avenue
and the Chamber of Deputies at the other end of the street.
In the afternoon we visited the old painter K. in his studio.
I imagine he hasn't changed a detail of the place during the fifty
years he has occupied it. There were ornaments and antique pieces
of all sorts scattered about; paintings, mostly his own, covering
the walls; Spanish shawls and other brightly hued fabrics draped
about; a couch piled high with tulle ballet skirts in pastel colors.
A very pretty Gypsy girl was modeling for him. She struck a graceful
pose at the window as K. paused in his work to talk with us. He
gave us a very frank account of the girl's rather lurid past and
her predilection for stealing. I was concerned that the girl would
realize what he was saying, even though K. assured us she didn't
know a word of English. Evidently she didn't understand him, or
else she didn't care, for she didn't change expression.
K. himself is a delightful person — so gently philosophical
and so eager to enjoy life fully in his quiet and modest way.
He is not at all disturbed by the trends which art has taken during
the past several decades; the personal vision which he conceived
many years ago and which has served as his vehicle of expression
during this turbulent period is still quite satisfactory to him
and he has passed the time when he has any desire for experimentation.
Tuesday, May 20th
One of Ary's friends told us the other day about a little restaurant
called Charles, and we have been going there for our noon-day
meal. It is on the order of the Corbeille only smaller. Monsieur
Charles presides at the desk in the front of the room, while his
wife does the cooking.
The clientele is mostly French , with only a handful of Americans.
It is even more informal than the Corbeille, and you never know
who your table-mates might be. Yesterday we sat at a table with
two repairmen who are working on the roof of a nearby building.
One of them was a quiet little man in blue overalls. The other,
a big, burly fellow, was in his undershirt and his face and arms
were streaked with soot. Ary began to talk to them in French,
and the bigger, rougher fellow was much impressed. And then, like
a child, he began to show off. He thumped his chest and flexed
his muscles and stretched himself, yawning with a great show of
nonchalance. Next he pretended to hit his friend in the nose,
laughing gleefully when the little man ducked. His behavior quickly
passed the childlike stage and became more like the antics of
a pet chimpanzee in the zoo. We began to wonder what we had unleashed.
But suddenly the fellow sobered down and began to tell us of his
war adventures. He had been taken prisoner by the Germans, escaped
from concentration camp and was recaptured and held for five years
at slave labor in the mines.
Today we sat next to an ex-G.I. who teaches piano and music history.
He has studied composition with Nadia Boulanger for a number of
years, and like most of the Boulanger pupils, he adores her. "She
is ageless," he said. '"Somehow I always think of her
as being my own age. When I was nineteen she was nineteen. And
now we are both thirty." Recently, he told us, he was horrified
to receive in the mail a black bordered envelope from her address.
It was with a heavy heart that he opened it. But the note proved
to be from Boulanger herself and it made no mention of a death
in the immediate family. "And then" he went on to say
'"I recalled that the French go into mourning even for remote
Thursday, May 22nd
This evening as we sit in our hotel room I am still under the
spell of the day's magic experience. No matter what adventures
may be in store for us today will remain engraved in my memory
— this day when I first saw the Cathedral of Chartres.
Our train reached Chartres about ten-thirty, and we made our way
at once through the picturesque streets of the twelfth century
town to the Cathedral, and inside to see the famous stained glass
windows — the finest in the world. I had not anticipated
the shock of their impact. For a moment I stood there stunned
and then I burst into tears. The richness of the color is beyond
all imagination. It seems to pour down on you from all sides —
it is vibrantly alive, and it burns with a deep glow like jewels
all afire. This is music translated into color —it is the
Hallelujah Chorus— it is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. And
just as Beethoven in his majestic score seemed to feel a compulsion
to break through the restraining bonds of the orchestra, so here
the orchestration of color seems to mount with a greater and greater
crescendo, until in the magnificent rose window above the front
portal it bursts into a paean of praise and joy.
Such concentration of beauty goes to your head like a drink which
is too potent — you can't take it in large doses. For relief
we would walk around the outside of the building, admiring the
soaring lines of the architecture and the simplicity and grace
of the sculptured figures which line the doorways. Besides the
Christ figure and the Virgin there are hundreds of other pieces
kings and queens, saints and prophets, Greek philosophers,
curiously fashioned animals. I found them quite similar in style
to the Oriental, but more simple and naive and not so penetratingly
introspective. One cannot fail to respond to their expressiveness
and their profoundly religious spirit, and one senses with what
love the simple artisans of that period joined together to erect
and adorn such temples of worship, and what joy they experienced
in their creativeness.
As we left the church at the end of the day art made our way down
the sloping street toward the railroad station we found that a
carnival had set up its gay looking booths in the lower village,
and the carousels were tinkling little French tunes. We sat for
awhile at a sidewalk cafe in the center or the town, where we
could see the festivities. But the carnival scene was only background
— it was the vision of the Cathedral which persisted, and
the magnificent color orchestration continued to vibrate through
my mind. I think they will be with me always.
Saturday, May 24th
This afternoon Ary took me to an "At Home" at the studio
of A.L. We had to climb three steep flights of stairs to reach
his studio — quite a large room and kitchenette, with a
balcony which serves as bedroom. Various students of his were
there, and an Hungarian painter who has a canvas at the Salon
de Mai, a rather elderly Swedish woman painter who talked to me
in English, and a government official or two. A.L. brought out
a number of his paintings, mostly landscapes in the French tradition.
He has been widely known for years as an outstanding teacher and
writer on art. Ary, who attended a few of his classes years ago,
has always been full of admiration for the brilliant way in which
he could analyze compositions. He would take apart one of the
masterpieces in the Louvre and explain just how it was composed;
he could practically reduce it to a mathematical formula.
But when I looked at his own paintings I realized more than ever
before that you can't use a formula in taking anything creative.
It doesn't work out in painting any more than the use of a chemical
formula can produce a chick. Articulate as A.L. is in writing
and talking about art, his own canvases seemed to me dry and static
He recognized Ary and welcomed him warmly. However be bristled
when Ary told him that for years he has been painting in the abstract
vein, and he mumbled in his beard something about "Americans
craze for experimentation."
When we sat at the cafe this evening Ary's old friend D. broached
the same subject. It was the first time he had referred to Ary's
painting in the abstract style. He wasn't bitter about the growing
trend toward the abstract as so many of the French painters seem
to be, but he was puzzled.
"I always thought you were a romanticst, Ary" he protested.
"I still am" Ary replied. And then he
went on to say that if he had continued to live here all these
years he would still be painting scenes of Paris. "The romanticism
of the roofs of Paris is so strong" he said "that it
is hard to break away and look for other realities to express.
But it is different when you live in a highly industrialized country
like the United States where that form of romanticism doesn't
exist. The sensitive creative artist who has a feeling for the
romantic searches for a form of expression without depending on
the reality which is on the surface. Consequently he looks within
himself and eventually a romanticism is born which has evolved
from an inner reality rather than a surface reality."
D. looked at Ary dubiously. "Is there any such thing as romanticism
in a mechanical world?" he asked.
"The romantic spirit will always be with us" Ary replied.
We used to have a romantic feeling for the place where we were
born — where we met our first girl friend. That tree which
stands by the house, the dog, the cat, the grandfather smoking
his pipe, all became part of the romantic scene. A painting which
recalled that scene arrays touched the heart, and it was admired
not primarily for the beauty of the scene or the quality of the
painting, but for the sentiment which it conveyed.
"During the last war and in the years following, our vision
of reality has undergone a vast change. The atom, the aeroplane,
the radio, the television have practically revolutionized this
vision. Reality is no longer something you see — it is something
"And with the development of speed the attachment to places
is not so strong. However the urge of romanticism is still strong.
The laymen in general may not realize it, but the artist, the
poet, the composer sense that a new romanticism is being born.
When you can have breakfast in New York, lunch in England, dinner
in Egypt, it will be the vista from the plane —the impression
of the people you will meet— the sensation of movement,
of color, of sound, that will be blended to make up the new romantic
feeling. All these things will crystallize into something that
will be the source of a new poetry and a new vision in the future
At this point D. interrupted. "It's getting late, Ary,"
he said, "so let us meet again very soon, and Ill try
to tell you my ideas about values in art." And we left it
Wednesday, May 28th
I have been begging Ary to take me to see the site of his old
studio, on the outskirts of the Montparnasse section. The building
itself was torn down some years ago to make room for a housing
development, but I wanted to see the surroundings. So this morning
we set out in that direction. Our way led us down a tree-shaded
avenue, with a view of picturesque old houses and sky-light studios
down the side-streets. We made a stop at the B's place, a low
building made up entirely of studios, with yellow roses blooming
in the courtyard. The Bs weren't at home, so we went on our way.
At noon we stopped for lunch at one of Ary's old haunts, "Chez
Francoise." Francoise, a husky and vigorous Alsatian, and
Ivan, her Russian husband, were thrilled to see Ary. Francoise
insisted on setting a table for us in the little parlor which
is reserved for special guests, and she served us a truly delicious
meal, with herring and weiner-schnitzel and wonderful white wine.
Ivan, who is getting on in years, has a helper in the kitchen
now, so the old man came in to sit with us for a few minutes and
to talk to Ary in Russian. Ary told me later that in the old days
Ivan used to pour out his troubles to Ary in Russian, and Francoise,
who didn't understand a word, would fly into a rage, and Ary would
have to placate her by talking to her in German.
Lunch finished, we walked the few blocks to the
studio site. I gazed up at the trim-looking, modern apartment
house and tried to visualize it the way it had been twenty years
ago... I know that Ary must have had many nostalgic memories as
he stood there. I don't know what pictures flashed through his
mind, but I could visualize his last night in Paris —back
from his farewells at the cafe to the studio which he had already
stripped of all its belongings— to pace up and down throughout
the entire night; then starting out at the first break of dawn
to walk slowly through the familiar streets, mile after mile until
at last he reached the railroad station.
Saturday, June 7th
This morning we met our old Provincetown poet friend R. on the
street. He was with Jack M. who has just returned from Italy where
he has been painting for the past six months. R. has been hitch-hiking
about Europe for a year, and now is busy on a series of articles
which he hopes will bring enough money to pay for a return passage
to New York.
They both advised us to go to Italy now, before the terribly hot
weather makes traveling uncomfortable there. We talked it over
later and decided to take their advice. We will start out Monday
morning, going to Venice first, via Milan. From there we will
proceed as the spirit moves, during the summer months, and in
September we will return to Paris.
At La Corbeille this evening Ary told the wife of the proprietor
that we intend to leave for Italy in a day or two. She said she
would miss us, and then in an unwonted burst of hospitality declared
that we must have an aperitif "on the house" before
our departure. In view of he proverbial French thrift we thought
this was a magnificent gesture. However, when we declined, with
profuse thanks, she was visibly relieved.
Notes to Remember:
The little girls in white confirmation dresses and veils, followed
by groups of proud-looking relatives.
The vases of flowers in the windows of butcher shops.
The old men sitting at tables in the Luxembourg Gardens, absorbed
in card games; others playing croquet on the lawn.
The witch-like old women who come to collect for the chair you
are sitting in, in the park. They seem to spring out from nowhere
and invariably startle you out of a reverie.
Sign on the wall of a cafe:
"Avis -- chers amis chiens!
"Par mesure d'hygiene et de proprete, evitez de monter sur
les banquettes et les fauteuils."
(Attention, dear canine friends! For reasons of hygiene and cleanliness,
please refrain from climbing on the benches and chairs.)"
The pale boy on crutches who sketches portraits at the cafes in
Montparnasse. Fragile looking, with soft flaxen hair. The story
is that when the Yankees came to liberate one of the concentration
camps, they saw something moving among the corpses piled up on
the ground. They pulled out this young boy, barely alive; his
leg had to be amputated. Now the French government supplies him
with enough to live on, and he is studying art.
All the different types of cats, and their serenades at night.
The elaborately decorated pastry in bakery windows. And always
the long loaves of hard-crusted bread, which people carry clenched
in their fist.