When I saw this painting (well actually NOT the painting as that had been loaned elsewhere) but a copy of it in the Musée de l’Orangerie I was immediately taken back to 1968 when I was a young teenager in a Grammar School near Leeds.
There we had an amazing French teacher who earned himself the nickname of ‘Lurch’ as he was a big, tall chap with short cropped blonde hair and for some reason reminded us of Lurch, the butler, in the Addams Family programme on TV at the time.
He was a wonderful teacher, making our French lessons fun and interesting, with great humour. One of his comments in my end of year report has stayed with me all my life: “Jude is an excellent conversationalist, just a pity it is not in French“. Saying that I loved languages and especially French, so much so I even went to work as an au pair in Geneva several years later. He unfortunately for us, left to teach in Chad at the end of this school year, leaving us to do our French O level with a rather disappointing replacement.
But back to the painting. One of the ways he taught us the language was by studying scenes or paintings and this was one of them. The teeny dog, or was it a cat? The family in the cart – where were they going? Who were they? Is that a child or a pet monkey? Such a painting could stimulate many a conversation. In French. Of course 🙂