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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Patricia Tompkins

Paolo Uccello Among the Half-Price Postcards

In a bookshop on the California coast, I flip through a box of postcards: collages, sentimental vistas, reproductions of Victorian illustrations, photos of Tarzan, Eddie Cochran, puppies, elephants. One shot stops me. I recognize the place˜Northern Italy, mid-15th century˜the colors, the fashion. Not Piero della Francesca, despite the smooth wooden oval of her face, a white headdress covering her hair. Not the ethereal lines of Botticelli, not Mantegna, or sturdy Ghirlandaio, not Andrea del Sarto. A young woman descends a staircase, her gown moving with her, as she balances a dish in each hand, a servant in a fresco. Her name is unknown but I recognize the painter, an artist in love with perspective.

half a life ago,
a student sustained by art
the gilt frame now chipped