1. LONDON MODELS (continued)
As to what they are asked to do they are equally indifferent. On
Monday they will don the rags of a beggar-girl for Mr. Pumper,
whose pathetic pictures of modern life draw such tears from the
public, and on Tuesday they will pose in a peplum for Mr. Phoebus,
who thinks that all really artistic subjects are necessarily B.C.
They career gaily through all centuries and through all costumes,
and, like actors, are interesting only when they are not
themselves. They are extremely good-natured, and very
accommodating. 'What do you sit for?' said a young artist to a
model who had sent him in her card (all models, by the way, have
cards and a small black bag). 'Oh, for anything you like, sir,'
said the girl, 'landscape if necessary!'
Intellectually, it must be acknowledged, they are Philistines, but
physically they are perfect - at least some are. Though none of
them can talk Greek, many can look Greek, which to a nineteenth-
century painter is naturally of great importance. If they are
allowed, they chatter a great deal, but they never say anything.
Their observations are the only banalites heard in Bohemia.
However, though they cannot appreciate the artist as artist, they
are quite ready to appreciate the artist as a man. They are very
sensitive to kindness, respect and generosity. A beautiful model
who had sat for two years to one of our most distinguished English
painters, got engaged to a street vendor of penny ices.
On her marriage the painter sent her a pretty wedding present, and
received in return a nice letter of thanks with the following
remarkable postscript: 'Never eat the green ices!'
When they are tired a wise artist gives them a rest. Then they sit
in a chair and read penny dreadfuls, till they are roused from the
tragedy of literature to take their place again in the tragedy of
art. A few of them smoke cigarettes. This, however, is regarded
by the other models as showing a want of seriousness, and is not
generally approved of. They are engaged by the day and by the
half-day. The tariff is a shilling an hour, to which great artists
usually add an omnibus fare. The two best things about them are
their extraordinary prettiness, and their extreme respectability.
As a class they are very well behaved, particularly those who sit
for the figure, a fact which is curious or natural according to the
view one takes of human nature. They usually marry well, and
sometimes they marry the artist. For an artist to marry his model
is as fatal as for a gourmet to marry his cook: the one gets no
sittings, and the other gets no dinners.