Period: The return to England

Tusnelda Tusnelda
painted in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, 1936
oil on cardboard 60.4 x 51 cm
signed l.r., oil “STELLA BOWEN”, not dated
private collection

Tusnelda was a friend of Bowen’s. Of Danish descent, she and her American husband lived in the village of Cagnes, in southern France. Little is known about her life. She is simply “Tusnelda” in Bowen’s autobiography, and neither her surname or occupation is mentioned. However, it is clear that her easy-going, nurturing character left a deep impression on Bowen. To her, Tusnelda had “the most useful pair of hands and the wittiest tongue and the warmest heart” she had ever met. Bowen particularly admired Tusnelda’s hospitality and her capacity to conjure up parties from very little means. It was undoubtedly these happy occasions that inspired the painting Proven├žal conversation.