Chapter 9 – Nocturne in Black and Gold
“A light fog washed the bank at Battersea Bridge. Barges moved like great black ghosts on the Thames, silent but for the clop clopof a team of draft horses on the shore echoing off the houses of Chelsea.”
(Battersea Bridge- John Atkinson-1885)
Out on Battersea Bridge, the Colorman looked like a pile of wool haunting the night,
(Nocturne in Grey and Gold-Chelsea – J.M. Whistler – 1876)
But he was so unsettled around her, losing time, lately, going to the studio in the evening to find that he’d finished a painting that day without any recollection of having done it.
The Beach at Trouville at Low Tide – J.M. Whistler-1865
This trip actually happened, although I only speculated on the scene Jo is confessing about. Although, Courbet did paint Jo while on that trip, and Whistler would go off to a war zone soon and Jo did run off to France to be with Courbet, who would paint some of the most, well, slutty pictures ever of her. The one below painted in the following year shows Jo and Courbet’s previous mistress (or other mistress, at that point, I guess.) One painting (The Origin of the World -1866) Courbet did of Jo was so scandalously pornographic , that it wasn’t publicly exhibited until 1963.
That day in Normandy? I’d just fucked Gustave, right before you came in. He had both of us, me and Elise, one after another, and we had each other while he watched. I thought you should know. That was a lovely painting you did of the fishing boats, though.
The Sleepers- Gustave Courbet- 1866
Portrait of a Beautiful Irish Girl (Jo Hiffernan)-Gustave Courbet-1865
“That’s the beauty of it. He’s already taken with Jo.” She did a half curtsy as if presenting herself. “I don’t even have to change shoes.”
“No, Courbet is very talented. A great painter.”
The Desperate Man- Self-Portrait-Gustave Courbet – 1845