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Picturing a World

Petit Honoré

It was great fun to invent the Petit Honoré where Robbie Dolson takes Jeanette and Effie instead of to Tortoni’s—so much fun that I made the café a favorite of Effie’s. (Generally speaking, if someone or something is important enough to be given a name in a novel, it’s a good idea to have it appear at least twice.) In the last week, it was also astonishing fun to run across this picture by an artist wholly new to me—Simon’s Petit Restaurant could by the front of my Petit Honoré. (The garden I put out back was inspired by the one at the Hôtel des Marroniers, where my husband and I stayed a couple of times.)

Tavik František Šimon (1877–1942) was a Czech painter trained in Prague, London, and Paris. At his height in the early 20th C, he worked within trends of the period just ending. The influence of Whistler and of Japanese woodblock prints is evident in his graphic art; Cubism is not. Yet, writers and artists, don’t we need to respond to what moves us rather than worry about what critics or historians will say? Simon’s work is so strong, so beautiful, that I gaped and gaped as I ran through the wonderful gallery of his graphics on paper available on line here.

As for the Petit Honoré, I was tickled to have my dramatic scene confirmed when I ran across a an 1878 Punch cartoon that could stand in for the one Jeanette draws of Robbie after Effie has supplied a caption.
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