"Charles bought a picture of some asparagus from Manet, one of his small extraordinary small still lifes, where a lemon or rose is lambent in the dark. It was a bundle of twenty stalks bound in straw. Manet wanted 800 francs for it, a substantial sum, and Charles, thrilled, sent 1,000. A week later Charles received a small canvas signed with a simple M in return. It was a single asparagus stalk laid across a table with an accompanying note: 'This seems to have slipped from the bundle.'"
And here is the single stalk
What a lovely story.
I know this book is going to get get darker in tone at some point with the rise of Hitler and the annexation of Austria, but at the moment I'm loving the opulent world of fin de siècle Paris.