Finding a means of obtaining blood meant I could focus on what brought me to Paris. Art was the heart and soul of the city. Evening exhibitions enabled me to see the great artists of the time such as Corot, Millet, and Rousseau. Several artists wanted me to pose for them, but I declined all requests because I could not allow the existence of a dated portrait of me. I became friendly with Manet, Monet, Renoir, and other young Impressionists.
One night, I sat at café talking with Claude Monet, whom I had met at a party after an exhibition. He had difficulty selling his magnificent paintings.
“Nessa, it is hard to pour your soul onto a canvas only to have it derided.”
“You are a talented man. Surely people will buy your paintings.”
“It is not just me. It is hard on my wife. She wears old clothes and wonders if anything will ever change.”
I reached into my purse and pulled out ten francs. “Here. Take this. Your family should not suffer because the world is blind.”
He looked at the money then pushed it back at me. “No. I cannot take money like a beggar.” Though his lips were drawn, tears leaked out of his eyes.
“I am not giving you anything. Consider it a loan. Give me any one of your paintings and you can redeem it whenever you want.”
He looked at the money then at me. He sighed. “Only as a loan. Only as a loan.” Then he kissed me on the cheek. “You have a great spirit.”