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Picturing a World

Carolus-Duran (1)

Because the real Jeanette Smith studied with Carolus-Duran, I knew from the beginning he would be a character in the novel—but not what a gift he would prove to be. In life, he was flamboyant. Besides being showy painter who invoked Velásquez each time he commenced a portrait, he was an accomplished swordsman and horseman. He rode one of those bicycles with the big front wheel down the Champs Élysée while they were new and dangerous. He played the guitar and organ. He was noted for the giant size of his palette, his dandified clothes, and his vanity. Most important to me, he was a gifted and generous teacher.

For an article written about him at the time of a 2003 retrospective exhibition of his work, click here.

For Sargent’s portrait of him and a caricature of it that emphasizes his Mephistophelian look, click here.

And for an amusing, all-too-apt post on fashion, art, and advertising featuring a self-portrait by Carolus, click here.
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