Marie Marchand in front of her fireplace. (Photo: Jessie Tarbox Beals, courtesy of New York Historical Society)

A distinguished modern art collection once hung in the cozy Greenwich Village tavern at 20 Christopher Street, above steaming bowls of 35-cent Romanian chorba stew. Romany Marie’s, which operated out of the location between 1915-1923, wasn’t plastered in paintings because its proprietor was a collector (although Marie Marchand did love art). It was simple: neighborhood artists who were strapped for cash could go there for a free meal, in exchange for artwork.

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