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Les soeurs floridiennes


Kathleen and I spent the closing hours of St Valentine's Day talking about this photograph. The women in the picture are sisters. Once you start looking, a family resemblance stands out. But that's not what occupied us. Most people, including the lady on the right, would say that, while the sister in the pink top is gorgeous, her companion is - nice-looking. She does not have her sister's dazzling American smile, and her eyes are not half-masted by the pleasure of being young and lovely and free. Most important, the lady on the right leads with her forehead, not her chin.

If you wander through the Louvre or the Met in search of pretty faces, you won't find anything like the very American girl on the left. Her expression, if it existed at all before modern photography, was of no interest to the Old Masters. For example - speaking of Old Masters - consider Rubens's picture of his sister-in-law (here represented on postage stamps). The lady, Susanne Fourment (hmm!) smiles with her lips pressed together, but she holds her head down, just like the sister on the right. In the context of the photograph, there is something self-deprecating about that downward tilt vis-à-vis the upward thrust to the left. But if you consider Ms Right's picture by itself, an astonishing self-assurance emerges. The sort of assurance that allows one to resettle (just like all good Americans!) across an ocean. 

Stare at the photograph long enough, and you'll be bedeviled by two very pretty young ladies, each lovely in her own way. It's entirely possible, of course, that "long enough" is something that only an old clochard like me would devote to the picture. All I hope is that they had a great time partying last night in Gainesville.


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If I had to guess, I would say that the "pretty" one lives in Florida, while the "nice-looking" one does not. She probably lives in the Northeast.

The pretty one wears pink and is tanner and wears more makeup, and has blond hair that has probably been blowdried straight. The nice-looking one wears black and has dark hair that has been pulled back.

I could say more, but first, provide more information on the gainesville sisters. What were they doing there? How do you know them?

It is a fascinating picture.



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