Blue Period Is a Time of Sadness

14 November, 2010
Blue Period is a Time of Sadness
The narrator of “De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” is a nineteen year old, who has just returned to New York from Paris after nine years abroad, three months after the death of his mother. He notices in a Quebec newspaper for a post of the correspondence art school in Montreal. The school is merely the second floor of a tenement building. “One large room and a tiny, boltless latrine,” the narrator recalls, “were all there was to Les Amis des Vieux Maitres itself.” As for personnel, the narrator quickly realizes he is the only employee, along with M. Yoshoto and his wife “Mme”. The next day, work begins. The narrator finds that his duty is to translate Yoshoto’s corrections of students’ artwork from French to English. What is more, like “many a really good artist, M. Yoshoto taught drawing not a whit better than it’s taught by a so-so artist who has a nice flair for teaching.” Somewhat crestfallen by what appears to be his job, the narrator wonders if perhaps Yoshoto knows he has been lying through his teeth and is punishing him with this demeaning work. His heart sinking to new lows, the narrator opens up a third student’s envelope. Her name is Sister Irma, as she explains in her questionnaire, which accompanies the artwork, she has had no formal training in drawing, and is only diving into it because she was asked to teach the class. She encloses six samples of her work – and the narrator immediately feels he has stumbled upon a true, and rare, talent. Bubbling with new found enthusiasm, the narrator resists announcing his discovery to Yoshoto, for fear that Irma’s art might be taken away from him, and stashes away her envelope so that he may work on it on his own time that night – which he does, until four in the morning. He asks her to mail him all her previous work, and writes that the “days will be insufferable” until her envelope arrives. Unfortunately, the envelope doesn’t arrive. A few days later, M....