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Picturing a World

Blue-and-white teacups

When Edward goes to Sonja and Amy’s studio to see the portrait medallions Sonja has sculpted for him, Amy serves the gathered friends tea in chipped blue-and-white porcelain. I got the idea for chipped china from Massachusetts artist Eleanor Norcross, who bought china with small chips and flaws as a cheap way to collect items she wanted to display back home. I had Amy specialize in blue-and-white because it was all the rage in the 19th C—so popular among Æsthetes that it became the object of jokes (for a famous Punch cartoon, click here. For Mary Cassatt’s more famous picture of two young women taking tea with blue-and-white cups, click here. In both paintings, the visitor can be identified by her hat.

Given a choice, would you rather have tea in an artist’s studio or one of the gorgeous tea shops of Paris?
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