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Marcel Duchamp and Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor


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Marcel Duchamp and Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor

Concetta Bruni (1909-1979)
2012, oil on canvas, 29×22 cm

Marcel Duchamp and Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor

Concetta Bruni (1909-1979)

Marcel Duchamp and Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor




Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor; A Marriage in Check. The Heart of the Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor, Even (Part 1)

Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor
A Marriage in Check. The Heart of the Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelor, Even (Part 2)*

He spoke with great bitterness and there was a tense expression on his face; in fact, it was the same mocking grin that I had seen the day before, when he expressed his discontent concerning the little lacquered cabinet. There was no violence, no anger as such, but something so hard and impenetrable that it set me thinking. I took note that some things were taboo and that I would have to learn what they were. I also surmised that it was the commercial aspect of selling paintings that had disgusted him and that perhaps that was one of the keys that explained why he had given up painting. A game of chess, at this moment, provided the necessary diversion. I played very badly, since I have never been able to concentrate for long enough to rapidly foresee all the possibilities that a move could entail. Invariably I blundered about the board making such colossal boobs that Marcel had not even considered that such moves could be played, thus destroying all the carefully built plans he had pieced together! He was surprised, not to say thrown, and so the game lasted an hour or two all the same, though he was obliged to give me back several important pieces that I had lost in the opening gambit.

Our wedding was approaching and I was impatient for the day to come when this marvellous companion would be mine for life. He was the one! He was my brawny Stone Age man, the one who comes out of his cave with the skin of a wild beast over his shoulder, the one all the women want, and he chooses me, he drags me to his cave and makes me his wife. How bright the future would be by the side of one’s own personal superman! I knew that we would not see eye to eye on everything and that I would be hard put to make up for the fifteen years that separated us, for a slice of life that long is unbreachable. I knew that there could be rough patches and friction, and that life would not always be a bed of roses, but what did it matter now that he was there? He was there, the prince I had dreamt of as a little girl, whose smile brings Peace, reassurance and warmth. He was the Beloved of the Song of Solomon, my heart was bursting with joy and the next day we were to be wed. He would be mine and I would be his Chosen One. All forgotten were the hang-ups about being overweight, my aborted education, my empty days and family worries, for he had chosen me. It meant he thought he could raise me to his level and, heavens above! what a level it was. It made me dizzy just thinking about it. Marcel was a whole that I did not analyze in detail, and that whole was everything to me. I would have been incapable of saying what colour eyes he had, but the sound of his voice set my heartstrings aflutter. No sooner was I back home than I threw myself upon the piano. We were a very musical family. My mother was an accomplished pianist and a talented composer; she spent long hours practising pieces of chamber music with her friends. She had always insisted that I continue my studies, little progress though I had made. Sadly, I was too lazy to work up my technique. I did not have anything like perfect pitch, my voice had a wide range but no middle register, and the notes always came out false anyway. The result was not brilliant. But in spite of all that, I would have loved to sing and my head was full of melodies and catchy operatic arias that would not go away. Whilst in the throes of love, I relied on music to express the heart’s overflow. It was both calming and a catalyst. I boldly attacked the most difficult passages of the repertoire, which I massacred at the top of my voice.

Portrait of Lydie Sarazin-Levassor in the garden of the family house, “Les Fondrets”, Étretat, c. 1920.

Portrait of Lydie Sarazin-Levassor in the garden of the family house, “Les Fondrets”, Étretat, c. 1920.

Sometimes, when the music had grated on my mother’s ears for too long, she came and accompanied me, out of pity. I was pleased and sang more in tune. We leafed through certain songs that I particularly liked, but I was sometimes so moved by the words that I had a lump in my throat and had to stop. Those were the last moments of intimacy that I was to share with my mother for a long time. She too had her time taken up with the changes to come, trying on her new dresses, taking the necessary steps for her forthcoming divorce, not to mention the endless discussions with her friends. No doubt they meant well, but their advice was of dubious value. One day, I overheard the following conversation:

“The poor dear, head over heels in love—isn’t it a shame. It can’t have been difficult—such an easy prey, just waiting to be snatched up. Along came the wolf in sheep’s clothing, determined to seduce her—a handsome man with handsome ways, charm and intelligence with it, and she was smitten.”

“They say he’s the Pope of the Surrealists, or something like that.”

“The Surrealists? Another new lot! Now who are they? And what do they get up to?”

“Apparently they’re a bunch of scribblers who want to do a kind of literary ‘Dada’.”

“Aah! I see. Well, Henri has found himself a nice nephew! And yet I was far from imagining that he could sacrifice his very own daughter so, just for the sake of Jeanne Montjovet.”

I was indignant. White with rage. I could have pulled that lady’s hat right down over her mouth to make her shut up! I swore I would never speak to her again, never see her again, but the next day I naturally had to thank her for her wedding present: a double ashtray made of two oyster shells with a lump to indicate that a pearl was on the way. Can you imagine anything more hideous! It was awful. Nor did it answer to Marcel’s request for very simple objects that looked as artless as possible.

I was to receive another shock: my Aunt Edith, whom I adored, refused categorically to be a witness at my wedding. It had been through her that we had got to know the Crottis, since she lived at the same address (5 Rue Parmentier). She thought she was partly to blame for my having met Marcel Duchamp in the first place. Her refusal was tantamount to setting a seal of disapproval upon the marriage; it was an act of solidarity with my mother, her only sister. I was hurt by my aunt’s attitude. Truly hurt, with all the pain that a little girl can feel when she is suddenly cut off from her little world of comfort. I told Marcel of my heartache. I was shocked at the levity with which he dismissed the incident. Without a thought for my emotions, he said that the simple and normal thing to do would be to ask someone else to be a witness. It ought not to be difficult, he said. But my pride revolted: I wanted Marcel to be aware that because of him and for him I had been led to cut precious ties with people that were dear to me. No response. Water off a duck’s back. Seeing that I had become pensive, Marcel said to me, very affectionately: “Come now, you must make an effort to become an adult. Free yourself from the family mould. Shake off the weight of heredity. Find yourself, the pure self, like a child newborn.” I nodded without grasping what he meant, since I did not see any difference between one’s true personality and everything which accrues and clothes it. A young plant needs a stake; when it has taken root, the stake is withdrawn and it is left to fend for itself.

And so it was that every day each new incident led me to reconsider the ways I had of looking at things. I had taken them for certitudes and thought it easy and natural to lean upon them.

“No,” Marcel explained, “life poses a string of problems and you have to solve them each time in a new way. Accumulated experience isn’t a kind of adjustable spanner that can be used to solve all life’s problems. You have to avoid prejudicing—prejudging—a case, which means, of course, no judging in advance. Instead, what is required is constant reflection, continual innovation, like Trotsky’s permanent revolution.”

“Ok. But what if the next day, having thought it over, the decision made the day before no longer seems viable?”

“It doesn’t matter. An equilibrium is maintained, as in chess. You have to try to see everything as if for the first time, all the time, even if it means contradicting yourself, since the context of one day is never quite the same as that of the next.”

This was not so different from the teaching I was receiving once a week at the School of Rosicrucian Studies, the director of which was my guru, Ludwig Krauss, son of the famous opera singer[31] who rose to glory in the time of Napoleon III. In their doctrine I had found the answers to all the philosophical and spiritual questions I had been asking myself. I had found peace, a new ideal and lasting faith. Despite the marriage preparations, I found time to participate in their meetings, if only by sending my homework to California. On those days, Marcel met up with me in the Ternes district. We dined at the Brasserie Lorraine or at Reich’s, but more often than not at a tiny Russian restaurant that no longer exists where they served vodka, zakuski, borsh and other specialities at prices that bore no comparison to those charged by the so-called Imperial Chefs. In my enthusiasm for all that I had just learnt, I tried to persuade Marcel to admit the possibility of reincarnation, if nothing else. To my great disappointment, it did not interest him in the least, and, as was his wont, he sidled out of it with a witticism and the inevitable pun, which I detested. I wondered how someone so refined could descend to coarse jests and such heavy handed humour. I put my reincarnation away in a little box for later use and let myself be carried along by his conversation—for conversing with him was always enchanting. He sparkled with energy and a particular spirit of his which was tempered by his critical side and reined in by the limits he imposed upon himself. Spring was exceptionally bright and hot that year, and a refreshing drink was welcome before the evening. One day at Brancusi’s, soon after our return from Étretat, while Marcel was showing sculptures to possible buyers in the other studio, I felt thirsty and asked Brancusi for a glass of water. He fixed me up a mominette, a drink I had never heard of. And so I discovered that a mominette was a half-ration of absinthe, the liqueur that used to perfume the streets of Paris at the end of the working day, until the war when it was banned.[32] A well-known brand had just launched a product flavoured with aniseed that bore a passing resemblance to the notorious herb, which used to be served with a sugar cube on a spoon over the glass. This first mominette seemed no more alcoholic than squash, and so when Marcel came with the visitors I took a second to chase the first, finding the drink rather a light one. Then Marcel took me to a restaurant on the Quai Voltaire to taste duckling cooked Rouen-style—the house speciality. I had been promised this duckling since we had been in Étretat, the season not having been willing while we were there. I drove more or less well from the Impasse Ronsin to the banks of the Seine, though I was already startling to feel more than a bit tiddly. Unfortunately, duckling was not ready-prepared and had to be ordered, so we would have to wait, drinking aperitifs to while away the time. Marcel was amused to see me drunk and ordered two Pernods[33] before I could say anything, telling me that it was not a good thing to mix my drinks. Heavens! what would the result have been if on top of it all I had mixed my drinks! The double-measure I was served had nothing to do with Brancusi’s little mominettes. Up to the brim it was. By the time the duckling arrived my head was spinning, and to cap it all, Marcel—whose head was clear as crystal—had chosen a heady wine to accompany the fowl. I tried to keep up appearances, relishing the fillets in their burning hellfire sauce, but I was losing my composure. The very strong coffee did not succeed in easing my discomfort or stop me from feeling faint. I managed to leave the restaurant in a dignified way, but once by the car, parked in a neighbouring street, I collapsed in a heap, incapable of driving anywhere. What was to be done? Call a taxi and go straight home? Impossible. Parking regulations at that time made it an offence to leave a vehicle on the public highway for more than a few hours: the owner would be booked for abandoning his vehicle. If a fine came through the post, my father would prohibit my driving in Paris from that moment on. Marcel hailed a taxi and took me instead to Rue Larrey, as this was evidently the best solution. I was very much in love. Unfortunately, spurred on by the effect of the alcohol, I put up no resistance (quite the opposite) to the premature accomplishment of an act which, in my mind, was to have made us man and wife. No sooner had dawn risen than I returned to the car—which fortunately bore no ticket—and thence to the Avenue du Bois,[34] where everyone was sleeping and no one would know at what hour I had come back. Phew! It had been a close shave!

Our wedding day would soon be upon us and the contract was going to have to be signed. Only Marcel was too sensitive to actually ask my father how much he was planning to give me as an allowance. It was only later that I learnt he had been hoping for a large sum, and that he needed it. Having invested all his capital in the purchase of the Brancusi sculptures, he now only had his meagre savings to live on. Unfortunately, the art market was at a low ebb and he wanted at least to be able to pay off his debts. The rest could come later. So why, during the interview with my father, did he not unburden his problems to him? My father might have been understanding, though he had problems of his own: Poincaré had depreciated the Franc and the family revenues had slumped to a mere quarter of their former value. To counter this, he was obliged to heighten our house by one storey and erect a main building in the courtyard of the old outhouses. The building work was to start the day after the wedding and my father needed all his assets to cover the costs of the building site. He had therefore decided to give me an allowance rather than a lump sum. This much I already knew. But Marcel had not broached the question of money with him and I could hardly have been expected to make the first move. When the contract was read out, Marcel discovered that the only sum at his disposal would be the yearly allowance, which he did not think very generous. It was barely sufficient even just for one person. The disappointment could be seen on his face despite the efforts he made to keep his composure. As soon as we were outside, Marcel took me to the Luxembourg Gardens and spoke to me very seriously for the first time about the income that we might have to live on, given the payments afforded me by my father. He painted a grim picture of our future existence and it was then that I realised, with horror, that in fact he had no source of regular income—apart from the art that he had given up—whereas I had been given to understand that he earned a living like everyone else, one way or another. All I knew was that Marcel thought patronage indispensable to an artist, to free him from material concerns and allow him to express himself.

I was shocked and hurt. It was not so much the petty means that would be our lot in the future, for I had few wants and disliked luxury in any case, nor had I fooled myself into thinking that Marcel would introduce me to a life of wealth and ease, like the very rich who can spend without thinking— it was riches of another kind that Marcel brought with him: he could make your wildest dreams come true. No, what cut to the quick was the bitter sarcasm in his voice, his disenchanted gaze, the impression he gave of realising he had been mistaken. I misunderstood what was probably just realistic advice and coming from someone who had learnt what the cost of living was through long experience. The malicious gossip that had been dinned into me now returned with a vengeance: “a fortune hunter—the Picabia-Montjovet conspiracy—getting his daughter off his hands on the cheap”. My emotions were in such a turmoil that I had difficulty paying attention to what he said. It was then that it hit me: there was something that was not working out between us and would perhaps never work out. Maybe he had the same impression at the same time.

I came back home feeling devastated. There was no one I could open my heart to: my father was dining out and my mother would not have been of any assistance, as she would surely have said, “Oh, my poor child! Didn’t we tell you he was only interested in your money!”

I was still reeling from the shock and my imagination was running wild. No, it was not the future economic straits that frightened me. Had I not always believed a certain mutual understanding to be worth all the money in the world? The shock came entirely from Marcel’s strange attitude, seeming bitterly to regret not having substantial funds at his disposal, whereas I had thought him so disinterested, so much above it all. Gnawed by anxiety, I asked myself whether Marcel had in fact just been looking after his own welfare, manoeuvring to secure a roof over his head and his daily bread from a marriage that had been arranged by a third party. So where did that leave me? What did I mean to him? Where did I fit into the equation? What did I count for? Nothing, zero, nothing at all. How wrong I had been all along. Vanity of vanities! Little did they weigh in his eyes, youth, energy, love and understanding, everything I thought I was made of, compared to the importance of a penny or two. In the scales of his heart, the missing pennies reduced my weight even more, till I was worse than worthless. All this kept running through my head and I had in lump in my throat thinking I had been chosen merely for the dowry that had seemed promising. The idea turned into an ever more painful obsession. It was unbearable. I could only conclude that the courtship had been faked; the homage paid to my few personal qualities had been simulated. I then felt sorry for myself, regretting the enthusiasm with which I had offered him my virginity no sooner than we were back from Étretat; and to think that I had wrecked the little that remained of my parents’ marriage, ignoring everyone’s advice, not heeding the warnings, throwing caution to the wind, and forgetting my poor mother who had fallen victim to all their dirty tricks. No! It must not be! The marriage must be broken off!

The crisis had reached its climax and now, all of a sudden, it subsided. I became reasonable once more. To break the engagement off now would cause a scandal. The like of which does not wash off. And what would be gained? It would not stand in the way of my father and Madame Montjovet, whose love for each other would follow its natural course. And once the scandal had blown over, I would be condemned to live alone with my mother and she would never forgive me. No, to call it off now was not an option that was open to me. Even if I had been seriously mistaken, had I not also wanted to flee my parents’ broken marriage, and was not this suitor my ticket out? The wine is drawn, it must be drunk. Suppose I had been duped, then it was time to show that I was a good loser, come what may. There was no guessing what would happen in a few months’ time. Little by little my anger abated. By the time I fell asleep, I no longer doubted the sincerity of Marcel’s feelings for me. I was certain it had not been a mistake all along, and despite his disappointment, I knew I could trust him.

The next morning, the doubts had returned, but I was swept away by the cares of the day, and the wedding dress could not wait. It was the final fitting session and the length had to be decided for the train and the veil. My wedding dress was a very nice one. It was short, in silver lace, with a low waistline and a long train for a little pageboy to hold up. The fitting-room proved too small to allow the train and veil to be spread out to their full length, so the fitters put me in the fitting-room corridor. Predictably enough, out came the other ladies who worked at the tailor’s to give their advice, and the big boss herself, followed by the ladies in the neighbouring booths, with the pins still sticking out of their dresses, all in order to admire the bride. It warmed my wounded heart to hear their compliments and even the routine exclamations: “Oh! Isn’t the bride lovely! What a beautiful young lady! The husband’s a lucky one! He is going to have a nice time!” After all, perhaps he was attracted to me despite my surplus weight. He always said he preferred stout women and the young woman I had seen on a photo, the wife of a well-known painter with whom he had had a long love affair, well, she was a good deal tubbier than me. Not to make too fine a point about it, when he drew me to his bed, he did not give the impression that it was a chore.

That evening, we would meet for dinner at Brancusi’s. Marcel had rented a studio next door to exhibit the sculptures he had brought back from America. He had declared them as “stones” in order to escape paying customs duty on them. I knew he had spent all the money he had inherited on these sculptures and that it was vital for him to recoup his costs.[35] And there was to be a visit that day from an interested party. It may have been for the organisation of an exhibition, or maybe they were prospective buyers, I cannot remember. When I arrived, The air was full of the wonderful aromas of a very special Rumanian meal that Brancusi was preparing on his own. His welcome was all that was needed to set my troubled mind at rest. Brancusi’s closest friends called one another “Maurice”.[36] It was not given to everyone to be a “Maurice”. You had to open up your heart completely, and have a pure heart, in order to be one. So I was very flattered when, after two or three visits, Brancusi called me Maurice: “You’re just perfect. Completely unsophisticated.[37] Sturdy and capable. Intelligent and with a good heart, just what’s needed, and above all, be yourself. Nothing more, nothing less. Chase away acquired knowledge. Exercise freedom of thought. Ignore all doctrines. Don’t let yourself be indoctrinated. Be ruled by instinct, always, and not by reason. Yup, you have the makings of a real Maurice.” While Maurice Brancusi fixed a mominette for Maurice Lydie, he spoke warmly of Maurice Marcel, telling me that he was an artistic genius, disinterested in his affairs, firm in his affection and friendship, and congratulating me once more for being his chosen companion, his heart’s desire! I felt bucked up by the absinthe, Brancusi’s charming accent and the warmth of his gaze—everything conspired to put new spirit into me. No one was going to say that everything had been thrown overboard just because of money! Having felt reassured by the flattering comments at the tailor’s in the morning, and by Maurice Brancusi’s affectionate outpourings in the evening, not only did I decide not to break the engagement off, I also resolved to forget all about the bitter feelings that had possessed me the night before. I reasoned with myself. Marcel had looked the figures in the eye and had thought it just as well to warn me that the future would be neither rosy nor easy. It was the proper response of a future husband who was thoughtful and serious. I had surely misinterpreted a necessary warning and, if there was a risk, I would take it all the same. Everything before me was luminous once more. There was peace in my heart, and when Marcel returned with the group of visitors I was smiling, beaming with joy, ready to put my trust in him, now and for the future, determined to do everything to keep by my side someone I considered exceptional. His eyes, his voice, everything that emanated from his sheer presence thrilled me to the core, I was so much in love.

The civil wedding took place a few days later, on the eve of the church wedding. Just as we were getting into the car to go to the town hall, a cousin of my father, Antoine Cayrol, arrived out of breath and carrying a suitcase. His daughter had just been rushed to hospital with appendicitis. He was not anxious, but still…! At any rate, he had brought Hilda’s complete bridesmaid’s apparel. So that was another bridesmaid quitting when the going got rough! Ok, fine! Heaven only knows all the affection I bore Hilda, who was like a little sister to me, but my egocentrism at the time was such that I did not give the seriousness of her operation a second thought. The only thing that counted for me was the fact that I had to find a replacement within twenty-four hours!

At the town hall for the sixteenth arrondissement, we were treated to the main reception room with its gilt furniture, potted plants, and red velvet. Our wedding party consisted of only a dozen people: the four witnesses—my Uncle René Sarazin-Levassor and René Luquet de Saint-Germain on my side, Gaston and Picabia on Marcel’s side—and their wives, excepting Gaby Villon who had not wished to be present. Everybody was extremely elegant. Mother was absolutely ravishing in her pale, print dress, not to mention her little, roguish hat with bird of paradise feathers floating on it; my father was even more majestic than usual, sporting a black, embroidered jacket and pinstriped trousers (which in those days were considered very smart). I wore a very simple dress in navy blue crêpe de Chine, set off by white georgette trimming, and, of course, the traditional cluster of white carnations. A large leghorn hat, black and sober, completed the outfit which I had put together so that it could easily serve later for intimate dinners in restaurants.

Marcel, wanting to do things properly, had ordered for the wedding one or two suits as well as the morning coat at Auld Baillee’s, a tailor of Scottish extraction who for a long time had had something of an industrial approach to his business. His clients would choose the material and style in Paris where measurements were taken. The suits were then cut and sewn in Scotland, and any adjustments would be made when they arrived in Paris. As soon as Marcel mentioned the name of his tailor, it was greeted with whoops of laughter, for it appeared that Auld Baillee must have made artists a speciality: my grandfather, the painter Léon Olivié, had patronised the establishment many moons ago, as had my godfather, Wilhelm Van Kempen, the perpetual student at the Grande Chaumière Academy, and the sculptor Emmanuel Moncel de Perrin, a cousin of mine by marriage, who has lots of pieces in Paris.[38]

The mayor in person came to wed us: he read the relevant passages of the code civil, pronounced his speech, and concluded with the words, “I hope, madame, that you will always inspire your husband.” Picabia and Villon, who knew Marcel and his oeuvre, came within an ace of bursting into laughter—they had to bite their lips to keep a serious countenance. Following the ceremony, there was lunch in one of the dining rooms of the Automobile Club, overlooking the Place de la Concorde. The décor was very nice, the dishes were exquisite, the service impeccable, the atmosphere very relaxed, everything went very well but I kept thinking about the bridesmaid I had to find, so as soon as I had drunk my coffee I slipped away to see if I could not shake Zette Piat into action. She was staying with Monsieur Maroger, the minister, and I said to her, “Bronchitis or no bronchitis, you have to come, if only to the church. Come to the house early and my chambermaids will adjust the dress to fit you.” It was not easy to convince her, because she really did have a very bad cough, but when I promised that a car would be waiting for her at the door of the church to take her back home, she finally accepted.

It was our last evening, our last supper in the family home, and I felt very sad. We would never more be united at the same table with so much love in our hearts, and so many implacable decisions on the surface. It was true that I had suffered to see the family break apart and that I had wanted to run away from the disaster, but now that all the moves had been played, I had a lump in my throat. What I would have given to go back in time a few weeks, when, despite the break up of the family, I was still their cherished daughter, the centre of all their affection. They had made me the apple of their eye, and I wanted to cry out loud to them how much I loved them. I had to be a monster to be so ungrateful. Their sadness was the equal of mine, and I could not utter a word, my nerves were on edge. Too late to go back! It was too late! My egoism had destroyed everything! My poor mother was condemned to suffer the pains of martyrdom! It was too late! I was Mrs Marcel Duchamp—it was done! My father retired to his study, my mother, having forced herself to be with us, shut herself up in her rooms, and there was nothing left for me to do but finish packing my suitcase to take to Rue Larrey the next day. With a heavy heart I picked the objects that had framed my existence. Each one was linked to a memory of childhood or adolescence. I so liked my beautiful Directoire furniture all around the room, and everything that had surrounded me.

* Lydie Fischer Sarazin-Levassor; Un échec matrimonial. Le coeur de la mariée mis à nu par son célibataire, même, Dijon, Les Presses du réel, 2007, pp. 45-58.


[31] Marie-Gabrielle Krauss (1842-1906), Austrian prima donna.
[32] The sale of absinthe was made illegal in France in 1915.
[33] A highly-alcoholic, aniseed-flavoured drink, and effectively the closest thing to absinthe. Usually diluted in seven parts water.
[34] Now the Avenue Foch.
[35] Marcel Duchamp had inherited almost 10,000 dollars. The sum was immediately spent on producing the film Anemic Cinema and on the purchase of the Brancusi sculptures (Tomkins, pp. 269-270).
[36] Maurice = Moritz. From the famous children’s picture-book Max und Moritz, published in Germany round about 1885-1890. The young hero, whom everybody believes to be a simpleton, rescues the sophisticated adults from difficult situations thanks to his practical good sense. The book is a satire of a certain Kultur. [L.S.L.] Lydie Fischer does not give a reliable description of the story. Though it can be said that Max and Moritz are unsophisticated children who invent sophisticated tricks, our two heroes are better described as scapegraces who skip school and get up to no good, stealing food and playing tricks on people with water and explosives. One is naturally on their side, but the only good they can be said to do is to bring self-important people down a peg. The miller exterminates the little pests and the village is content. The author is Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908) and the first edition dates from 1865.
[37] Brancusi uses the neologism “désophistiquée”, since there is no single word in French for “unsophisticated”. It is, however, unclear whether Brancusi is describing Lydie’s permanent character or the effect of a process of “de-sophistication”, especially as the context of his pronouncement allows for the conflation of both ideas.
[38] The sculptures on the façade of the town hall for the tenth arrondissement were completed in 1906. A series of female statues represent the principal professions that were practised in the arrondissement at the end of the nineteenth century. Reading from left to right, and starting with the block on the Rue Hittorf: Les Parfums [perfumes], by Eugène Ernest Chrestien; Le Théâtre [the theatre], by Gaston Veuvenot Leroux; La Passementerie [furnishings and trimmings], by Henri Barrau; La Verrerie [glassware], by Louis Demaille; and La Broderie [embroidery], by Count Emmanuel de Moncel de Perrin (1866-1930). He had married Suzanne de Coppet (1874-1946), Henri Sarazin-Levassor’s first cousin.