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The author discovered a work of the realist artist, Émile Friant, in the French film, I’ve Loved You So Long, where he first saw the painting, La Douleur. He was so impressed by this painting that he decided to do research on the artist. This led him to the realization that very little had been written about Émile Friant. Much research had to be done on his life and his paintings. This novel can be seen as a companion work to Beaupré’s recent publication on Van Gogh. Both are based on the historical and esthetic facts surrounding the lives of the two artists, Van Gogh in Arles and Friant in the Alsace-Lorraine region, as well as Paris. The novel incorporates the following elements: Friant’s many paintings, well- described, the Parisian ateliers, photography as a tool for painting, the Grand Salon, the literary life of Friant’s times, the 1889 World’s Fair, and the close relationship with the best French actor of his day, Bernard Coquelin, and the Franco-Prussian War, as well as WWI. Moreover, as a novel, we encounter a seduction scene on the part of a young woman, a difficult friendship with an Italian man who tries to teach the artist the notion of sensuousness, the struggle with the concept of infinity on the part of the creative self in Émile Friant, and a professional relationship with the artist, John Singer Sargent. The setting is Nancy in the Lorraine region of France, as well as Paris, the fine arts center of the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Norman Beaupré comes from Maine and is presently Professor Emeritus at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He retired early in order to follow his dream of traveling and writing. He writes both in French and English and has written and published thirteen works. His latest French work is a Franco-American anthology with twelve contributors, Voix Francophones de chez nous. The author was decorated by the French Government with the rank of Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres for his outstanding contribution to French culture.
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