Olympia's Look

Edouard Manet. Portrait of Isabelle Lemonnier, 1879-80. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The day she seized the letter had been a big step.

Isabelle Lemonnier. At the time she couldn't believe it. Isabelle was only twenty. A frivolous child. She'd only begun to sit for him because she fancied him a leader of the avante garde and therefore fashionable. Was it a mere flirtation from a dying man envious of freshness and youth, or something more? It wasn't just the note itself that hurt her, but the furtive way in which Edouard had handed it to Hélène and her understanding that it was to be kept secret.