Maybe it is most leading, and also romantic, to find a clue to Mancini’s need for the graticola in the name he chose for the device itself. In his recent book on the artist, author Ulrich Hiesinger gave the word graticola this possible translation: “grating” (as in a confessional window).⁸ For the artist, who was quite devout, though he only painted one religious subject in his career (), his grid may have served as the divider between the mundane and the holy. Through his screen, sins were laid bare, and truths were revealed, and it is possible that the artist felt he could not be a conduit for the talents bestowed upon him from his God without it.
1980 Ulrich Hiesinger, “The Paintings of Vincenzo Camuccini, 1771–1844 Florence Cathedral: The Design Style” (1978); and Franklin K. B. Toker, “Florence Cathederal: The Design Stage” (June 1978)
The artist and his wife made their first trip to Villiers-le-Bel, a small rural town located about ten miles northeast of Paris, in the summer of 1888. They stayed with their friends the Blumenthals, on a piece of property once belonging to the painter Thomas Couture, Manet's teacher. Ulrich Hiesinger writes, "Hassam first mentions [Villiers-le-Bel] in a letter to a friend vacationing on the Isles of Shoals in June 1888. 'I wish we were at the Shoals for this summer...but we will really go to Villiers-le-Bel and I shall paint in a charming old French garden" (, 1994, p. 50). The Blumenthals' walled garden, which included terraces, flower beds, winding paths, and benches set beneath trees, was the subject of more than two dozen paintings by the artist and his first sustained treatment of the garden theme. Barbara Weinberg writes, "The garden scenes Hassam painted at the Blumenthals' country retreat anticipate, generally, his tendency to create works in series and, more specifically, his later images of Thaxter's Appledore Island garden... In [the Blumenthals'] walled formal gardens Hassam painted a series of works showing both servants, who were the suburban counterparts of his Parisian flower vendors, and more privileged women, including his wife, Maud" (, 2004, p. 76).