During my research trip to Paris, I stumbled on Chemin du Montparnasse while looking for 21 avenue du Maine. I quickly realised that they were one and the same. The name is a modern one that Kathleen O’Connor would not have recognised, as this narrow little lane lined with artists’ studios was referred to in her time only by its street address.
An arts centre, Villa Vassilieff, today occupies the site of the studio of a former inhabitant of the laneway, the Russian artist Marie Vassilieff. Vassilieff ran an academy from her upstairs studio, and Kate occasionally attended her evening sketch classes with British artist Nina Hamnett.
It was a Sunday when I walked through Chemin du Montparnasse, peering into atelier windows and gazing up, imagining Kate at work with her charcoal and sketchbook. Although it was quiet, deserted, I fancied I could hear laughter and the clomp-clomp of feet trudging upstairs to class, the creak of easels, the patient, weary sighs of artists’ models holding a pose.
It was a delight to find this remnant of Kate’s Paris in today’s Montparnasse.
Kathleen O’Connor of Paris will be available from 1 November
4 responses to “Kate’s Paris: Chemin du Montparnasse”
Lovely photos of a tiny piece of Paris, Amanda. Thank you for sharing.
Glad you enjoyed them! Thanks, Maureen 🙂
Another lovely post, Amanda – thank you. How intriguing, btw, that the discreet Kate O’C spent time with such a flamboyantly scandalous libertine as Nina Hamnett! Your mention of NH here has taken me back to passages that refer to her in KO’C of Paris – and tempts me into further idle speculation along the lines of a recent blog post of mine prompted by your book: http://ianreid-author.com/reading-tangent/
NH’s link with the bohemian circle around Rhythm magazine, to which Katherine Mansfield contributed stories and her portraitist Anne Estelle Rice contributed pictures, raises the faint but beguiling possibility that NH and KO’C could have met either or both of those women …
Thanks, Ian, and I enjoyed reading your post. Kate and Hamnett remained in sporadic contact for decades, which is indeed intriguing. Kate never met Katherine Mansfield. Nor, to my knowledge, did she know Anne Rice or Stella Bowen. She was, however, very aware of the Wellington connections between Mansfield and herself. She wrote (coincidentally, after seeking Nina Hamnett’s opinion on the idea) to Middleton Murry in the 1950s, suggesting he write an article about Mansfield, Hodgkins and herself along the lines of ‘three successful New Zealand women’. Unsurprisingly, he replied curtly in the negative!