• Stephanie Brown

62. Where we come from, where we are going


One of the books near my desk here in verdant North Carolina--where I come from, and where we have been these last few weeks--is a family history that was self-published by a distant cousin forty years ago. It’s a genealogy of my maternal grandmother’s family, stretching back centuries to the Low Countries and carefully cherry picking its way through the last three centuries in the Carolinas. (To read it, you would think that the institution of slavery never existed.) Incomplete as it is, the book’s simple existence is a factor in the story here at The Disappearing Gauguin. The book is evidence of many things: of possibility, of omission, and of the existence of archival records. As a child, I was intrigued at where all this information came from. As an adult, I have made it my business to create knowledge from archives, knowledge from things, to use history to ground myself more firmly in the present.


I’ve written, since May, two chapters of the book tentatively known as Authenticity and the Art Market: The Case of the Disappearing Gauguin. The deadlines roll along and it’s a matter of putting words on the screen, keeping going and keeping a sense of perspective. When last we spoke I mentioned our house renovations. We’ve moved out of our house

for…well, we don’t know yet. We are sheltering with family in my hometown now, and soon, I’ll travel to France for a longish (but never long enough) research trip. It will be my fourth for this project. I have archives to visit and sites to see. There’s a painting by Louis Roy at the Brest Museum of Fine Arts with which I hope to have an audience. There’s an 1894 court case that I want to review for myself. And there are boxes at museums and archives across Paris to search through again, to confirm or complicate what I have already found.





Louis Roy, Nature morte au vase de Quimper ...,

1890, Musée des beaux-arts, Brest


I’m hoping that you’ll join me on this journey. For the next few months, this blog will become more travelogue than tale. I’ll use it to share moments in the archives, to share finds as they appear, and to share what I don’t find, too. (What’s missing is often as telling as what’s not.) I'll be visiting some of the sites we've imagined together these last two years. I'll share photos of them, and impressions. We will travel first to Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu and then to Paris. Join me.

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