A Stalk from Manet

From Edmund de Waal’s quite impressive The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss:

And [Charles Ephrussi] was a friend of the artists. ‘It is now Thursday,’ writes Manet to Charles, 'and I still haven’t heard from you. You are evidently enthralled by your host’s wit … Come on, take up your very best pen and get on with it.’

Charles bought a picture of some asparagus from Manet, one of his 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.’