Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Georges Monnot and Me

It’s been two years since I met Georges in Samois-sur-Seine two years ago. We had returned again to the northern region of France to see the Django Rheinhardt festival held each year in Fontainebleu. This picturesque village was where Django and Georges lived, and originally where the gypsy jazz guitarist held the festival. Samois is such a beautiful place with a typical little square with cafes, bars and patisseries. A distant church bell chiming on the hour added to the ambiance of village life here.  A gypsy jazz band playing in the square was part of the the festival before it grew so big that they had to move it to Fontainebleu. It was fun to people watch sitting out side in the morning sunshine. Everyone engaged in conversation, coffee, and drink, made me feel happy.  As engaging and interesting to watch the crowds were, there was another man not far away from this bustling little square who captured my eye. 

Georges was someone way too young to belong in a graveyard along with Django also too young. Yet here Georges was in this lonely little grave yard. Those who had his memory are also long gone. I wondered if he enjoyed the village square like I did, enjoying coffee, and gypsy jazz. 

Georges was such a handsome young man who apparently was a deportee, and all that is left of him is a photo, and plaque in this tiny little village on the Seine just outside Fontainebleau. His young face and piercing eyes held me long enough to read that he was a deportee during the second world war, and thus transported to one of the many concentration camps in a cattle truck cramped in with many others. 

What a story this young man if he had lived could have told. Sadly, it is the same story over and over for many... Too many. My sketches are poor and don’t serve this young man justice. I yearn to know more about him, but I probably never will. As I work on his little face, I wonder who he was; was he in love? What about his family? His personality? Was he into gypsy jazz, and danced to Django..? Did he play? Everything about him I want to know, but never will. All I can learn about him is the shading of his features, and how to draw. He is teaching me with his mesmerizing gaze. I hope that maybe he escaped? I hope, but deep down know, that this young man most likely suffered before his untimely death. No matter what, a young man doesn’t belong in a graveyard at 21 years old. That leaves me sad. 

I didn’t draw the surrounding plaque. I want him to be alive and be who he could have been. I would like to tell his story, but this is one story I cannot tell, except my story and my discovery of him. There were too many Georges of World War II. This is my tribute to him and all deportees of France. 

Georges, I will keep drawing you, and one day you will hopefully be immortalized in a charcoal drawing of mine. For now, here you are in Graphite. 

Georges Mennot 1945 age 21 years old. 


  1. Your drawing doesn’t quite capture the sadness hidden behind those eyes, yet it captures your interpretation which I like as well. Keep drawing Georges. He obviously speaks to you. I don’t think he danced. He listened waiting for a sad song. I, too, am entranced by Georges.

    1. Thanks, I will definitely keep drawing him... Yes, I agree. But I like to think of him dancing too. Perhaps because I like to dance.. Projecting. I sure would love to know!