Jacob shifted in the too-small wooden chair. He felt within himself a clear, sustaining pilot flame of dislike. Gaugnot must be accustomed to receiving Americans of Jacob’s age—­youngish but no longer young, casting away scraped­­-up savings to escape from a first set of bad choices. He forced himself to meet the unanticipated clarity of Gaugnot’s blue eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“They say my technique is obsolete,” Gaugnot said. “That is true. It is secret. It became a secret because no one cared. The attention of the world turned away from this kind of painting, what you call naturalism. You—­” His gaze pushed Jacob back; the chair creaked. “You are here to learn the techniques of this secret.” He smiled a small, triumphant smile. “You think it is romantic.”

Lan Samantha Chang, “Painting of Hannah”