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Classification: Painting

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Image of Notre Dame de Paris

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (aka Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald)
American, 1900–1948

Notre Dame de Paris

about 1944

Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, Alabama
13 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (34.29 x 45.09 cm)
Medium and Support: Watercolor and graphite on paper
Accession Number: 1986.0004.0010

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Frances Fitzgerald Smith

As the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald spent a significant portion of the 1920s living in Europe, primarily in France. It was while she was in Europe in 1925 that she is believed to have taken her first formal painting lessons, but she had been interested in art since her youth. When they lived in Paris, the Fitzgeralds were a part of the milieu of artists and writers that formulated and nurtured modernist modes of expression in art, literature and music, and Zelda Fitzgerald was especially well acquainted with the Russian scene designers/ painters who worked for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe.

Although this watercolor cityscape of Paris was most likely painted in the early 1940s, it was undoubtedly inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald's memories of her life in the 1920s. The artist painted a series of cityscapes depicting Paris and New York around 1944, and these scenes incorporate landmarks such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame with fanciful evocations of the gaiety she experienced there in her young adulthood. The gray tonality of the work suggests a twentieth-century urban pall, but the atmosphere is instantly transformed by the charming carriages with their doe-eyed horses, and the row of umbrellas. She uses bright touches of color—red, yellow green and orange to make the scene sparkle.

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