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The Disciples.

Guest Mirth

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"This is preposterous," Charles de La Fosse grumbled in French as he and his friend entered the Royal Library. "We are well-established painters of our own right, and yet Le Brun continues to treat us like his pupils."


Jean Jouvenet gave him a sideways smile. "Oh, relax, Fosse-fosse." He chuckled. Charles always strived to prove his independence from his great master, a rebellious urge that Jouvenet never fully comprehended. "We should be grateful he brought us with him to England."


"Grateful for the privilege of serving as his apprentices? As if we were seventeen years old neophytes?" La Fosse growled. "And don't call me Fosse-fosse..."


Master Potts did not seem very pleased with their arrival – but whether it was because they were Frenchmen, Catholics, artists, or just plain human beings who disturbed his peace and quiet, they could not tell. Cheerfully, Jouvenet requested a copy of the Bible and all books in French or Latin about Greek and Roman mythology, and the two painters sat down to find potential themes for Le Brun's next painting.


"Two kinswomen, preferably sisters," Jouvenet repeated Le Brun's instructions quietly as he pored over the books. "To represent England and France..."


"Rachel and Leah?" La Fosse suggested, but Jouvenet shook his head: "They were fighting with each other all the time over Jacob, hardly a reconciliatory theme. Might as well offer Oholah and Oholibah."


Jouvenet was quick to share his own ideas. "I was thinking about Martha and Mary," he said. "As in Via activa and Via contemplativa?" La Fosse frowned. "Yes," he pointed out impatiently. "But this has nothing to do with France and England." The contented smile on Jouvenet's face faded as swiftly as it emerged. He then tried to offer Ruth and Naomi, which made La Fosse smirk with disdain. "That could work if France would have given offspring to the barren womb of England," he muttered, with a glint in his eyes. "Perhaps you should make such a painting for the Dutch stadtholder instead." Or Perhaps I should suggest it to Prince William of Orange when the day comes, La Fosse suddenly thought.


More names flew across the table and over the open pages – Helen and Clytemnestra, Procne and Philomela, Demeter and Persephone – and the two painters were about to give up when La Fosse said "Wait."


He opened one of the books, and pointed at a passage. "What about this?" And the two Frenchmen went "hmmm".

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