In The Midst of Madness, This Portrait of a Belgian Noblewoman
Meet the Baroness Catherine de Baré Comogne and her "sex weapon," whose portrait I will sadly never own.
Everything is sort of horrible at the moment. To escape reality, I have been obsessing about how I might decorate a very small apartment on a good street in Paris that I may or may not be moving into some time in the next few months. It’s one of those apartments that is like a puzzle, or maybe a riddle: can I have a bed and also a place to sit, work and eat? Will there be space to put my books and my shoes? Perhaps not, but there is a bathroom with a huge bath tub, the rent is decent, and the location is perfect. It has recently been renovated and does not feel shabby. For these things I am willing to make some considerable concessions. Surely I ought to be doing something productive like write or go through my terrifying, surely fatal work emails, but my Covid-addled brain is a sad bowl of porridge turned on its side, and I cannot. Instead I have been scrolling through the online auction listings at Drouot and pretending that I am going to buy a tasteful selection of 18th and 19th century furnishings at astonishingly low and lucky prices. (I did accidentally buy a shabby Louis XV armchair for €8, so you never know). Anyway, I also like to look at the art auctions, and came across this portrait of a woman (seen above), that will be sold at an auction taking place this Wednesday in Barcelona. I did a little searching online and found her first name, as well as some information about the family. She had a bunch of kids and died in her 50s. The auction house is estimating that her portrait will sell for between €5,000-€6,000, and there is a reserve of €2,000. Sadly, I will not be buying it, for obvious reasons, but I really wish I could. I love her whackadoodle hairstyle, two lovely chins, and curious expression. I would hang her over my bed and make her my social media profile pic and it would be a whole thing. Also, when I was using Google translate to read a Dutch Wikipedia article about her family, it randomly translated a Dutch word for coat of arms, geslachtswapen, as “sex weapon.” Sex weapon? Sex weapon. There were no other suggested translations. This woman with the crazy wig was also in possession of a sex weapon? I eventually figured it out, that it just meant coat of arms, but it was sort of a whole journey there for a moment.
Anyway, I am still sick. Godspeed, Baroness Catherine de Baré Comogne, I hope you find a new home with someone who appreciates you.