Art: Reputation Saved

The late John ("Wichita Bill") Noble was a Latin Quarter Bohemian, a noted painter of cowboys, sunrises and seascapes. He wore a five-gallon hat, called himself the "first white child born in Wichita." And he was hell on his own paintings. He often advised prospective customers not to buy them, often slashed them up, sometimes even bought back pictures he had sold, just to destroy them.

One picture Wichita Bill would have slashed up if he could: a sentimental landscape of a sunrise over Boulogne, France. As Wichita Bill's brush left it, it was not so bad, but after the picture was...

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