At last I come back to the woman who wants a portrait of some non- existent (ncver-existent) person. I've noted the notion before as that of a woman who wants to 'have been' a widow — she wants to have in her house the portrait of her husband. What is there in it? I seem to catch the glimmer of something. (...)
She calls on a painter of distinction.
'I want you to paint my husband.'
'Fort bien. When will he sit?'
'He can't sit. He's dead.'
'Ah, from some other memorial — from photographs?'
'No — I've no photographs. I've no other memorial.'
'Then how, Madam —?'
Un temps. 'Can't you do it from a — from a — No — I can't give you that. Can't you do it from imagination?'
[Cf The Tone of Time, published in Scribner’s Magazine for November 1900]