“Lady Olivia, it’s a pleasure to see you.”
Smiled the Duchess of Wedgewood while appreciating a painting.
The Duchess chose a museum as our meeting place. It was unusual.
I greeted her.
The painting she was admiring was Nicholas Rossetti’s Portrait of Mrs. La Morr.
Said the Duchess, who reverently looked at the painting: “It’s a tragedy that Nicholas isn’t painting anymore.
Nicholas, the most renowned portrait painter of the Empire.
Five years ago, he suddenly broke his brush and declared that no one inspired him to paint.
Family, friends, and colleagues—even the Emperor, came forward and tried to persuade him to resume his art career. But it was useless.
The Duchess spoke in a grim tone:
“In particular, this painting, “The Portrait of Mrs. La Morr,” is the most illustrious painting of Nicholas, the master of pre-barrette techniques. Who would have imagined that he would stop working on this masterpiece?”
“Portrait of Mrs. La Morr” was not a pre-barrette technique, but a painting of a Servita technique. That’s why I couldn’t help but doubt my ears at the moment.
The Duchess of Wedgewood was rumored to be an artist herself.
Did she make such a ludicrous mistake?
No, there is no way that the Duchess, who is well versed in high art, doesn’t know what I know.
It’s more convincing to think she was deliberately mistaken to test me.
The two techniques, pre-barette, and servita, were completely different concepts and could not be confused.
However, it was an unfamiliar term for most of nobility not well-versed in art history.
Perhaps the Duchess was testing me because she didn’t want to talk about business with someone who didn’t have a basic knowledge of art.
But the problem was too easy?
If you were going to test me, you could have prepared something more challenging.
I spoke in a relaxed and confident manner, as would a student who knew the answer.
“As you already know, Nicholas Rossetti is famous for being the first artist to come up with the Servita technique.”
The Duchess smiled as if it had been the answer she had wanted.
“Are there any other questions for me? I could explain the history of the last 100 years of Imperial art, if you’d like.”
The Duchess lightly laughed, amused.
She looked at me curiously and said:
“No, the princess passed admirably.” There must have been a reason she deliberately asked such an easy question.
Maybe she was trying to feel out if I truly appreciated art or simply treated it as a capitalist venture. So, even though she tested me, I didn’t feel bad.
“Well, should we start talking about business?”
When I asked, the Duchess flashed a smile and replied, “Let’s do it.”
“It’s been a long time since I have had such a pleasant conversation. I felt intellectually stimulated by your fresh ideas.”
“You’re flattering me. I am amazed at the depth of your knowledge.”
Said the Duchess, looking at me with a regretful look on the carriage:
“Please visit often and have tea with me.”
“I would be honored, ma’am.”
Thanks to my knowledge of art history, the conversation with the Duchess was amicable and fruitful.
Thus, it was easy to make a deal about exporting art to the Kingdom of Genoa.
I left the carriage feeling accomplished.
My destination was a downtown restaurant. I decided to meet Kian there.
I found myself in a hurry, rushing to make it on time.
Under the streetlight, a familiar silhouette could be seen.
Kian turned around, and he laughed as he made eye contact with me. I ran to Kian at a trot.
“Have you been waiting long?”
“No. I’ve just arrived, too.”
Kian escorted me to the restaurant.
It was busy, full of patrons, and had an elegant and luxurious atmosphere. Dinner was a success.
Fortunately, the main character was delighted with the chef’s skills.
After enjoying a pleasant dinner, we took a walk down the street.
When I crossed the bridge between the main street and the other side of the river, I saw a road full of artists appear.
Unknown painters spread their canvases on the street and painted caricatures or sold their paintings.
I was walking along the picturesque riverside, eyeing the art with Kian when a stranger appeared out of nowhere.
“Hey, young man!”
It was a hobo who called out to Kian. He had a shaggy beard, floppy limbs, and long, disheveled, tangled hair.
“Excuse me, sir!“
Sir Hans, my escort knight, took the vagrant away.
I push my hair behind my ears nervously. Why every time we went out, someone was trying to pick a fight with Kian?
“What’s the matter?”
I openly expressed my discomfort and irritation, but the drifter spoke with no sign of hostility.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to beg.”
Then why are you bothering us?
The hobo took items out of his pack on his back.
Unexpectedly, they were all painting tools, including an easel, paints, and palettes.
He spoke in an earnest voice:
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to draw a picture of this young man… Would you permit me?”