In a Not So Distant Past

Henri Matisse by Dmitri Kessel, Nice (France), 1951


Matisse photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1951


‘Are you amber?’ a wise man

asked a piece of rough clay

lying at the edge of the fountain.

‘You must be, for your aroma

bears an infinite sweetness

and seductive fragrance.’


Vase with Flowers, Henri Matisse, 1911


‘I am mud,’ said the clay

with all the humility of riff raff.

‘I am mud, insignificant mud,

but in a not so distant past,

I, as a crude vase, held

a bouquet of flowers!’

Friedrich Schiller

Notes on The City That Care Forgot

Truman Capote, Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1946


In the summer of 1946 Henri Cartier-Bresson  was sent by Harper’s Bazaar on an assignment to New Orleans along with the 22-year-old Truman Capote, who described him at work, ‘dancing along the pavement like an agile dragonfly, three Leicas swinging from straps around his neck, a fourth one hugged to his eye… clicking away with a joyous intensity, a religious absorption.’

Capote wrote about the notes on his hometown in a letter (published in a collection of his letters called Too Brief a Treat) to his good friend, fellow author and also his fiction editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Mary Louise Aswell.