Wednesday, June 15, 2011

in lieu of a siesta - lunch with Dora, Sept. 1952

The restaurant at Les Beaumettes couldn't have been more modest. We ate outside on a narrow terrace set just above the main highway between Cavaillon and Apt, along which in that era there was very little traffic. Dora had ordered the entire meal in advance and promised that it would be excellent. It was. For aperitif, we began with a liter of icy white wine, the bottle of which bore no label. Then came a truffle omelette, followed by roast lamb with foie-gras sauce, salad, cheeses, almond cake, coffee, and several unlabeled bottles of red wine. I sat facing Dora. She was smiling. Here, I thought, is someone I've never seen before, a total stranger, mysterious, the radiance of her gaze amazing. The trumpet cigarette holder came into frequent use, and sometimes a tiny avalanche of ash cascaded down the silk slope of her breasts. We were all talking. And it was also as though I'd never before noticed the exquisite birdsong quiver of her voice, unique, an enchantment. This was one of those moments that seemed to define the universe forever by the piercing delight of the present. We talked about a thousand things but principally about Picasso. "Talking about him, we're talking about ourselves," said Douglas, "because if anyone remembers us after we die, it will be because we knew him."

"Oh, I'd much rather talk about the cinema or the weather," Dora said, "but I have to talk about Picasso, because people expect it, because nobody knows as much about him as I do."

I said I'd give a lot to live a hundred years to see what happened to Picasso's reputation and fame. Might it all wither away and come to nothing? Remember Guido Reni. No chance of that, Dora said, for the commitment of dealers, collectors, and museum curators was already too great, there could be no turning back now. And Douglas said that this was the Picasso century, he was the greatest figure of the century, greater even than Einstein or Freud.

"Poor century!" said Dora.

James Lord, Picasso and Dora: A Personal Memoir, p. 95
actually I could use a little siesta after all
thinking of you too darling

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