PROUST ON FRANKLIN AVENUE

The great-great nephew of Oscar Wilde used to travel with a small reproduction of Man Ray’s Marcel Proust on his Deathbed. Or was it Nurit Spivak Kovarsky’s untitled drawing in which the author contemplates his madeleine? I can account only for those heavy-lidded eyes of Proust’s, glowing by the murky wattage of a fish tank in the Franklin Avenue living room where we often crashed in those days.

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Similarly, for many months when I roomed with a kleptomaniac from Maine, I would leave our digs each day carrying my one important possession: a valuable Albrecht Dürer woodcut, “The Circumcision of Christ.” Sealed in a plastic bag, the Dürer would bounce around in my knapsack as I cycled to and from work. How common, I wonder, are such personal traveling collections?

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Here, for example, is Alice Kellogg Taylor’s portrait of Mary Rozet Smith, who is better known as lifelong companion to Nobel Laureate Jane Addams. Ms Addams, always reluctant to part company with her beloved, never crossed the Atlantic without this rather large painting in her steamer trunk.


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