It was a shame there was nobody alive with that kind of spirit, she thought, but then Victorine and she wouldn’t understand each other. Only in paint and canvas. She read French, but spoke it excecrably.
(And that was just how her professor had described her accent: execrable, with that turned-up voiced vowel at the end where the English would have a silent ‘e’.)
Minneapolis and St. Paul had been settled by fur traders, French some of them, and there were places all over town with French names where they weren’t corruptions of Ojibwe or Dakota, or pasted-on Anglo… but nothing was pronounced as it had been. Time corrupted everything, drew it away from the purity of the original, or made it into something new.
[Author’s note: Angie Stavros is looking at the painting Woman with a Parrot, in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Victorine Meurent (1844-1927) worked with Eduoard Manet as a model, and was a painter in her own right. The portrait is in the Metropolitan Museum. See also this 2008 article from the Guardian, on the occasion of the discovery of one of Meurent’s paintings.]