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( BORDER OF VILLAGE ) | kankar



07.01.2012 12:44 EST
'The Last Nude,' story ofan enigmatic model, lover
The dark-eyed, black haired woman with strong features and a blood-red mouth lies naked on a sofa, her sultry -- and somewhat hurt -- gaze locked on the viewer.
She is Rafaela, the subject of several paintings by Art Decoartist Tamara de Lempicka and the narrator of 'The Last Nude,' a novel by Ellis Avery set mainly in 1920s Paris.
Little is known about Rafaela besides her appearance in the paintings, the fact that she was de Lempicka's lover, and that de Lempicka was working on a copy of her most famous Rafaela painting the day she died, more than half a century later -- which made her compelling to Avery.
Avery, who took a painting class as partof her research, spoke to Reuters about getting inside Rafaela's skin and the book, including an11th-hour decision to cut 120 pages.
Q: You've said you were inspired by the paintings. How did you develop the story and the characters?
A: "I saw her work atthe Royal Academy inLondon in 2004 and came away weak in the knees -- this is so gorgeous -- and the caption said that the young woman in the painting was the 'Beautiful Rafaela' from 1927, that she had met this girl on a walk in the Bois de Bologne and she became her model, and her lover. Their relationship resulted in six paintings, and itseems to have been a brief relationship. Then when I looked at her catalog, the very last painting shewas working on when she died was indeed that copy of 'Beautiful Rafaela.' So 53 years later, this girl was still on her mind, which was thrilling to me.

kankar.peperonity.com


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