Lately I've been fascinated by Gerald and Sara Murphy, the iconic Jazz Age ex-pats who set the standard for Americans in the South of France, and frankly, anyone and anywhere they went. He was the heir to the storied leather-goods manufacturer Mark Cross, she was richer and had parents who objected to a suitor "in trade." She was 32 when they married, and five or six years older than he. Delightfully mis-, or perfectly, depending on how you look at it –matched, off they went to France, in pursuit of a more favorable exchange rate and number of miles from their perturbed families.
Known for an innate and fully comprehensive elan, the couple was widely sought after and said to have influenced more than one portrait by admiring members of their circle, most famously Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night and, more loosely, Hemingway's Garden of Eden. Many sketches of them exist in that sense –– Calvin Tomkins' 1962 profile in the New Yorker is exemplary, as is Peter Schjeldahl's review of a contemporary show on their "art & style" –– but photographs are extremely hard to come by.
Descriptions will have to do, and the one that is most oft-employed in Sarah's case is a particular habit she had of wearing her very precious pearls casually slung over a shoulder as she walked down to the beach at Antibes. Naturally, when I made plans to spend a few days of much-desired relaxation on the beach in sunny Southern California next month, then immediately came across a twenty-year old, sixty-four inch strand of Chanel pearls at Estate Jewels, well, you know: I knew it was mine.
If you enjoyed this post, see "Craft Can Save Your Soul," which I wrote about influential, inspiring artists, Joseph and Anni Albers.