On the way to Pau

After wintering in Shenzhen I’m back cycling in France, this time heading to see my great, grandfather. I will be winding my way through the Basque country to Pau, where great granddaddy hangs in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, depicted for all eternity as the bearded, hatted cotton speculator inspecting the fiber in Edgar Degas’ painting, The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans - (1873). The painting’s claim to fame, besides showing my ancestor, is that it was the first Degas to be purchased by a public institution in France, when it was sold to the Fine Arts Museum of Pau in 1878. (Degas was the only one of the major French Impressionist painters to visit the United States.) Through the Internet, for about US $400 or so, one can buy a hand-painted copy of this or other works of art from the likes of abcgallery or Hayel Evi. For about a quarter of that price, I had the painting copied in Shenzhen. It now hangs over my clic-clac in Sanary. A major noticeable difference between the two paintings is that the Sanary Degas is signed, in characters, by the Chinese artist, for I was told that the recopying of art works is not illegal (I am not sure where this applies but I was told Aeroport Charles De Gaulle) if the original artist’s signature is not reproduced. This painting is the reason I am cycling to Pau – so many people, obviously not believing that I travel because I like to travel, or bike because I like to bike, seem to relish asking me “why” I travel. This trip I have concocted a reason: to compare paintings. I hope everyone is happy.

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