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"The Picky Eater"

Claude Moanet

After the death of his mistress in a tragic art accident, Moanet returned to the bosom of his family and painted several intimate pictures of home life. Here we see his wife, Romaine, to the left, perishing of exasperation as she waits for the governess to finish feeding Ruprecht, the Moanets' youngest child. Romaine always dressed in deep mourning and wore a veil, even at the seashore. (Romaine Moanet belonged to Memento Mori, a Millennialist cult which believed the world was going to end "any minute now," and urged its members to be constantly prepared for death, or at least ready to attend a lot of funerals.)

Young Ruprecht was a difficult child whom the Moanets later sold to a band of Gypsies. The only nourishment he would take was cookies, which he ate by the plateful, washing them down with red wine, or with absinthe if he could get it. We see in this painting the tragic aftermath of the attempted introduction of creamed spinach to his diet. His Siamese twin Ruprechta, who was not present for this painting, was even worse, subsisting entirely on raw snails and champagne, with an occasional snifter of brandy for variety. She once bit a postman so badly that the Moanets were thenceforth required to pick up their mail at the post office.

The scene perfectly captures the esprit of the Depressionist movement, depicting a point in time so delicately balanced that the viewer cannot tell whether the crisis will be resolved by helpless weeping or catatonic withdrawal. The dark figure in the background is believed to be Ludmilla, the Moanets' anger management therapist and wet nurse, known familiarly as the bosom of the family.


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