|The art critic stepped into the artist’s studio, but he wasn’t looking at the paintings propped on easels and leaning against the walls. He was staring down at his own greatcoat, splattered with mud. “Mon Dieu!” he exclaimed, reaching to scrape at the sopping damage and then, glancing at his leather glove, thinking better of it. “Those scurrilous carriage drivers have no regard for anyone on foot! What is the world coming to?”
“I’m so sorry, M. Leroy,” replied the painter. “I hope it can be cleaned.”
“Well, no matter,” said the critic. He straightened up and looked around the studio. “Now, what was M. Zola so eager for me to see?” His writer friend had urged him to experience what was going on at the fringes of the art world, and in this studio in particular. He gestured at a small cylinder on a paint-dappled table. “What is that?” he asked.
“It’s a tube filled with paint,” the artist replied. “We can now carry our paint anywhere. We can paint outdoors.”
“Outdoors!” exclaimed the critic. “Why would you do that?”
“Because of the light,” replied the artist.
“The light,” muttered the critic. “What is the world coming to?” He approached a painting splotched with soft blues and greys, streaked with amber – or was it marigold? -- near the top, with a definitive circle, a glaring eye of orange, near the center and what looked like a boat floating on water. Maybe two boats. “And this?” he said, gesturing with his cane.
“The harbor at Le Havre,” replied the painter. “Just an impression.”
“An impression,” sniffed the critic. “I hope you finish it someday.”
“It is finished,” replied the painter.
“Is it?” spat the critic, shaking his head. “What is the world coming to?”
“It’s coming to us,” answered Monet.
(Word count: 300)