Paris Street; Rainy Day

By Rachel Anne Murphy

November 13, 2017

Paris Street; Rainy Day

Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877. Oil on canvas. 

Back then, a woman of 17 could marry a man of 37 and the men would say, good for you, old chum, what a waist she's got, and the women would say, good for you, lucky duck, what lovely diamonds. They could walk down the street on a rainy winter's day; he could hold their umbrella over their hats; she could slip her gloved hand into the crook of his arm. No one would notice them—they wouldn’t even notice themselves—except for that one man trying to pass, and only because they’re about to knock his umbrella. 

This is the painting that would have greeted us, at the top of the stairs, just inside the gallery doors, centered on its own freestanding wall, seven feet by nine feet, we couldn’t have missed it, if I had said, yes, when he asked, would I like to go with him, to the Art Institute, that weekend, or the next?, instead of looking down at his classroom floor and saying, um, no.

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