In 1959, after cruising down the Nile, Nell arrived in Greece. A friend had told her that studio space was cheap and the scenery gorgeous. On the island of Mykonos, she wound up living at the spacious home of a new friend. Avoiding the strong sunlight, she painted the view from her window—an indoor-outdoor approach that she would continue throughout her life. Her idyllic life was shattered when she was stricken with polio. Friends rallied to have her airlifted to New York. In the hospital, lying in an iron lung that breathed for her, she very nearly died. Recovered sufficiently to use a wheelchair, she was told that, as a paraplegic, her art career was over. But, aided by the solicitous care of her English nurse, Dilys Evans, who became her lover, she began to retrain her more usable left hand for oil paintings, using her right hand for watercolors.
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