The Marchioness returns to the Canebrakes (Part Three)

Alongside the highway between Eutaw and Demopolis there’s a large field dotted with strange sculptures. They’re made of hay bales, or welded together from junk metal. Any passer-by is welcome to stop and explore. I first visited the place at least twenty years ago. It was an afternoon in August and the heat silenced us all as we waded through the wet air. I was glad to see the display was not only still there, but that it had grown.Read more

The Marchioness returns to Demopolis (Part One)

In Ross King’s ‘The Judgement of Paris’, there’s an entertaining comparison between the working methods of Manet and Meissonier. In his rush to wow the Salon of 1868, Manet repeatedly bungled his ambitious canvas of the execution of Mexico’s Emperor Maximilan. The event was fresh and shocking, but Manet was not one for research. He was competing with the likes of Goya and Gericault- timing was everything, details be damned. As a result, as technicalities about uniforms and an absenceRead more

The Exile

In the early summer of 1817, a group of French settlers arrived in the wilderness of what would become southwest Alabama. They were Bonapartist exiles- among them Napoloeon’s foremost generals and aristocrats, forced to leave France after his final defeat. Where the Black Warrior and Tombigbee rivers meet, they founded the town of Demopolis, but their efforts to cultivate a ‘vine and olive colony’ there were doomed from the start. I read this story (for it feels like a folktale)Read more