ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (Hour 15, another prose poem, PM 2017)

Dear Mary: I want to come back to your painting Little Girl in a Blue Armchair. To talk to you about Edgar. Rumor had it for a long while – perhaps even fifty years – you’d be amazed at how stubborn Parisian gossip is – that you were his student. You, a woman – and him, the big shot male artist introducing you to the basics of Impressionism. As if you needed instructing or help in applying color. How wrong-headed!

We both know you were already established – own galleries /agents/sales – when you met Edgar. Equals. Artistic kin. And yet, I’m ashamed and embarrassed to read in your letter to your dealer, that dear Edgar not only found this painting “good” but that he even “advised me on the background, he even worked on the background.

I’ve since heard that Manet once took it upon himself to rework much of one of your friend Berthe’s paintings.

But who am I to judge what Edgar and you did. Can’t equals be collaborators?

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844 – 1926 ), Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, 1878, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art

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