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#0700: Willa Cather to Duncan M. Vinsonhaler, September 6 [1923]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My Dear Judge Vinsonhaler1;

I am here for a month, taking a cure and resting. I was worn out when I left Paris3, and that kind man, Bakst4, changed a number of engagements in order to be able to give me five more sittings when I get back. The portrait5 will require sixteen sittings, instead of ten, as we originally planned. I am afraid he finds me a difficult subject. Moreover, he changed his original intention in the first sitting and is doing a full half-figure, seated, and the hands. In the beginning he carefully explained to me when he did the figure and hands his fee was considerably more than for the head alone. Then, like most artists who try to be practical, he went right to work and painted it the way he saw it. It won't cost your committee any more this way, but it will take half a dozen more sittings than we had planned. Please tell them they are getting such good rates that they ought not to bother the man with requests for interviews!

Now for business:
  • (1) I left the check you sent me in a safety deposit box in Paris, as it did not seem proper to surrender it until the picture was done. Will you explain the delay in presentation to your bank? You see I wish simply to endorse the check to Bakst, not to deposit it on my bank account and then draw my check to him. Not at all! I'm frightened of people like Mrs. Shotwell6; one never knows what they'll say if they get angry.
  • (2) Is your committee willing that the portrait should be exhibited in New York7 and Philadelphia8 and Boston9 before it goes to Omaha10? There would not be time to get it out to you and back to Philadelphia for the Bakst exhibit Nov. 15-30. I am afraid he is counting on it very much for his Exhibition.
  • (3) I may not be able to bring the canvas home with me. I must sail in October, and it will have to dry for some weeks before it can be taken off the stretc stretcher and rolled. I will see the consul and ask what I had best do in the event that it must be sent on after me.
  • 4. Are you willing that I should have the painting photographed here in Paris, and that the photograph should be published in the Sunday N. Y. Times11? The Times representative came to see me about it before I left Paris, also a man from the London Illustrated12 who wants to use it. Mr. Knopf13 writes to know if he will be permitted to use a photograph of the painting for publicity work this fall and winter.

I am sending you Mrs. Shotwell's letter14 as I think you would be amused to see what an easy manner the lady has with a man who is accustomed to the most respectful formality in Paris. Fortunately he couldn't understand much of it. I didn't wish him to think her representative of the women of Omaha. I certainly didn't meet anyone like her when I was there.

Have you been at Aix, Judge Vinsonhaler? It's a charming place in the autumn, though I hate to exchange Paris for any other place in the world. Please address me still at Ville D'Avray15.

Faithfully yours Willa Cather
GRAND HOTEL DU NORD ET GRANDE-BRETAGNE AIX-LES-BAINS Mr. Duncan Vinsonhaler1 First National Bank Building Omaha10 Nebraska U. S. A. AIX LES BAINS SAVOIE2 8-9 23 8 45 Willa Cather