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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:26:59
Typefacelarge in Small
This home in Clamart was very comfortable, to be sure the bath-room, which the family much appreciated from long contact with americans, although it must be said that the Matisses had always been and always were scrupulously neat and clean, was on the ground floor adjoining the dining room. But that was alright, and is and was a french custom, in french houses. It gave more privacy to a bath-room to have it on the ground floor. Not so long ago in going over the new house Braque was building the bath-room was again below, this time underneath the dining room. When we said, but why, they said because being nearer the furnace it would be warmer.

Fernande told me a great deal about the menu. There was to be riz a la Valenciennes, Fernande had learnt how to cook this on her last trip to Spain, and then she had ordered, I forget now what it was that she had ordered, but she had ordered a great deal at Félix Potin, the chain store of groceries where they made prepared dishes. Everybody was excited. It was Guillaume Apollinaire, as I remember, who knowing Rousseau very well had induced him to promise to come and was to bring him and everybody was to write poetry and songs and it was to be very rigolo, a favourite Montmartre word meaning a jokeful amusement. We were all to meet at the café at the foot of the rue Ravignan and to have an aperitif and then go up to Picasso’s atelier and have dinner. I put on my new hat and we all went to Montmartre and all met at the cafe.

There were many discussions in those days. The bishop, the brother of Doctor Whitehead and his family came to lunch. They all talked constantly about how England had come into the war to save Belgium. At last my nerves could bear it no longer and I blurted out, why do you say that, why do you not say that you are fighting for England, I do not consider it a disgrace to fight for one’s country.

The next time there was a Zeppelin alarm and it was not very long after this first one, Picasso and Eve were dining with us. By this time we knew that the two-story building of the atelier was no more protection than the roof of the little pavilion under which we slept and the concierge had suggested that we should go into her room where at least we would have six stories over us. Eve was not very well these days and fearful so we all went into the concierge’s room. Even Jeanne Poule the Breton servant who had succeeded Hélene, came too. Jeanne soon was bored with this precaution and so in spite of all remonstrance, she went back to her kitchen, lit her light, in spite of the regulations, and proceeded to wash the dishes. We soon too got bored with the concierge’s loge and went back to the atelier. We put a candle under the table so that it would not make much light, Eve and I tried to sleep and Picasso and Gertrude Stein talked until two in the morning when the all’s clear sounded and they went home.

Fernande roused like a lioness defending her cubs. That is a brutality that I will never forgive him, she said. I met him on the street, he had a comic supplement in his hand, I asked him to give it to me to help me to distract myself and he brutally refused. It was a piece of cruelty that I will never forgive. I ask you, Gertrude, to give to me myself the next copies you have of the comic supplement. Gertrude Stein said, why certainly with pleasure.

The next time we saw Abel he was wearing the red four-ragère, his regiment as a whole had been decorated with the legion of honour and we were very proud of our filleul. Still later when we went into Alsace with the french army, after the armistice, we had Abel come and stay with us a few days and a proud boy he was when he climbed to the top of the Strasbourg cathedral.

The conversation around the tea table of Fernande was not lively, nobody had anything to say. It was a pleasure to meet, it was even an honour, but that was about all. Fernande complained a little that her charwoman had not adequately dusted and rinsed the tea things, and also that buying a bed and a piano on the instalment plan had elements of unpleasantness. Otherwise we really none of us had much to say.

The other woman was Germaine Pichot, entirely a different type. She was quiet and serious and spanish, she had the square shoulders and the unseeing fixed eyes of a spanish woman. She was very gentle. She was married to a spanish painter Pichot, who was rather a wonderful creature, he was long and thin like one of those primitive Christs in spanish churches and when he did a spanish dance which he did later at the famous banquet to Rousseau, he was awe inspiringly religious.


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