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Picturing a World

At the Florist

Before I saw Béraud’s Promenade, featured in the last post, I had seen Hassam’s Florist, which illustrates the custom of being accompanied by a uniformed maid when out and about in Paris (very handy for having someone to carry purchases as well as to announce respectability). Countess Marie Bashkirtseff and other privileged students at the Académie Julian were escorted to class by a maid. For Jeanette and other foreign students, however, such close chaperonage was unnecessary. The streets of Paris were safe and American girls were notable to Europeans for their independence.

In addition to its illustration of a social custom, I love this picture for the flowers. Edward gives them often, and Jeanette buys them for her still lifes. The writer Sylvia Townsend Warner remembered always buying flowers each week even when she was poor because a few pence should always go to beauty. Agreed?
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