Category Archives: french market

french market

I wish I could remember more about her, like her name, was she a mother, what kind of house did she live in, but I can’t and it was very long ago and there is no one left to ask. It was the summer of 1974 and I was an art student in Nice, France –  the Cote d’Azu (a moment I am so grateful to my parents for , for they  sacrificed financially to give it  to me). Anyway, every week day morning my friend Kathy and I would walk from our room at the Universite de Nice to a second floor studio with huge windows and tremendous light. Our journey would take us through the French Market in downtown Nice. There were colorful market umbrellas and plucked chickens hanging upside down, color wheels of vegetables from the neighboring countryside, Frenchmen speaking so quickly and bargaining so loudly and there were flowers, buckets and buckets of fresh cut flowers and everyone bought a bouquet; everyone had fresh flowers on their table each night for dinner. The personification of this sensual experience could be found in one of our models. She too would walk through the market each weekday morning. Along the way she would gather fresh fruit and baguettes and of course, fresh flowers. She carried it all in an oversized straw bag that was very old and full of character and the day’s supply of food. She wore a summer dress of sorts, one very simple and minimal, for she was a nude model and she was able to dismiss it without much effort or fumbling. She had sandals on her feet and her hair was gray and loosely gathered in a large clip; again, easy to take out and tumble on her shoulders and cast shadows and interesting lines for us to sketch. The thing I remember most about her was her smile, the radiance she brought to class each morning, as we stood behind our easels, still sleepy from the night before, and there she was with flowers and joie de vivre; content to be exactly where she was. She could not speak much English, but that was okay, her smile spoke of life and passion and happiness. I remember thinking she must have been “old” to be a model, especially a nude model, but she was so comfortable with whom she was and that transformed into a thing of beauty. I am probably nearing the age now that she was then and I reflect on who she was; someone, I suspect, who had sorted out all of the foolishness in life and was capturing the core, each morning, each day with flowers in her old straw basket and simplicity in her life.
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