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Picturing a World

Romance in the Luxembourg Garden

From the time I started writing, Sargent’s painting of a couple strolling in the Luxembourg Garden was a key image for me. Edward and Jeanette. The fountain. The fashion silhouette of the woman’s dress (no bustle). Touches of red. Light. I was jubilant when S. Hollis Clayson pointed out in a lecture that there are five sources of light in the painting: the setting sun throwing light from behind the viewer, moon in the sky, reflected light in the pool, lampposts at the far left, and a dot of light on the man’s cigarette. Okay, I admit, it has always disappointed me that the man is smoking (not with Edward’s lung!) and is too young; nevertheless I staged a romantic meeting for Jeanette and Edward because of this picture.

Naturally when we were in Paris to research sites, my husband and I visited this spot. We also had superb cheese omelettes at an outdoor café in the park, the happy memory of which led me to give Edward the same pleasure.

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