first image


Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

You only need one Masterpiece by Orlando Bartro

Édouard Louis Dubufe was a French portrait artist who thrived in the middle of the eighteenth century. 

Today, he is almost unknown.

But once upon a time, he was in great demand, even receiving a commission from the Emperor Napoleon III to commemorate the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Crimean War.

103 OB4 Edouard_Dubufe_Congrès_de_Paris.jpg

It’s a good painting, like many commemorative paintings.

His portraits are also skillful, like many portraits.

But Dubufe painted a masterpiece. Probably, it’s his only masterpiece.

And yet, as Orson Welles once said about masterpieces, “You only need one!”

It’s a painting of two sisters. It’s a painting you don’t tend to forget. When I first saw it, I assumed that the same girl was drawn twice, but they are twins.

103 OB3 dubufe1.jpg

The painting succeeds on multiple levels.

You can feel the weight of the standing sister’s arm on the back of the chair. You can also feel the textures of the fur over the seated sister’s forearm and of her hair hanging softly on her shoulders.

Note the contrasting color symbolism: white suggesting a bride, black suggesting a funeral.

And most importantly, we feel that we know these sisters, that this painting has preserved something of their personalities.

What happened to these twins? Did their lives match the symbolism of their dresses? What was their destiny? Happiness, sorrow—or both? The painting seems to ask this question not only of the twins, but of us as well.


103 A new Orlando Bartro photo for articles.jpg

* Orlando Bartro is the author of Toward Two Words, a comical novel about a man who finds yet another woman he never knew, available at Amazon. He is currently writing two new novels and a play.



Famous Irish Authors by Fran Joyce

Down the Rabbit Hole of DNA Testing by Ann K. Howley