The Fresno Bee The Republican from Fresno, California on January 10, 1937 · Page 41
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The Fresno Bee The Republican from Fresno, California · Page 41

Fresno, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 10, 1937
Page 41
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ared at Last- THE GiRL WHO WAS 'SEPTEMBER MORN' v*~ How America's Most Famous h Painting Ruined My tife," : By the Until Now Unknown Model FOBND AT LAST: THE ORIGINAL "SEPTEMBER BIORN" The Identity of Beautiful SuzAnne Delve, Above, as the Model Who Posed for the Famous Paul Chatas Node Was Kept a Carefully Guarded Secret for 25 Years After the Picture Was Painted. fTpw a SDMle-Aged Parisian Matron, She Reveals in the Exclusive Story on This Page How the Controversy Which Raged About Hie Painting "Burned Her Life." A ,FTER a quarter of a century of f\ secrecy, the mystery surrounding x ·*· the private life of the French girl who posed for "September Morn," most discussed painting of modern times;"can now be told^ For Paul. Chabas' - famous model haa · at last been found. She is the still beautiful Suzanne Delve, now 41 and a distinguished Parisian hostess. But Mme. Delve, while philosophical about the past, still smarts under the scandal of 25 years ,ago which, she says, "wrecked my life completely." That may be difficult to understand in this era of strip and bubble dancers, abbreviated swim suits . and frank glorification of the "body beautiful." Attractive nudity today is an almost sare-fire success formula oa the stage or in the world of art generally. But when Antiony Comstock, rabid reformer of another day, peered through his bifocals at a copy of Chabas' "September Morn" on display in a New York art store back In 1913--the very earth began to tremble. Comstock was shocked, of course. And go were a lot of other bonneted and high-collared folk of the pre-war era. "September Morn" began to sell like tickets to a. play that has been banned in Boston. A suddenly "nude-conscious" public began to ask! "Who is the girl wio posed for that scandalous picture?" Innumerable legends began to spring up about her. For Maitre Chabas, obviously embarrassed by the storm, of publicity, flatly .refused to divulge the girt'8 Identity. And he has guarded the secret gallantly all these years. Now eighty, ill, aad retired to a little country place, be still kept the model's identity to himself when reporters sought Mm out recently in one last attempt to draw aside the veil of mystery. All the old man would say was: "She is now 41, married to a rich French industrialist, and the mother of three lovely children. She is no longer BO slender as she was 25 years ago.. .." Chabas, sly old fox, was right only as to Mme. Delve's age. She is 41. But she Is neither married, the mother of children nor much, less slender than she was at 16 when she posed in her birthday suit for the eminent artist while her 'mother and Caabas' wife looked on. Under such obviously proper circumstances, why was it then, tbr.t tie girl'a identity was kept «. secrttT In an exclusive Interview for this maga- ztfle Mme. Delve, after sha wag located in a gorgeous modern apartment on the Rue Pergolese in Paris; con- sented'to tell the whole story. At the time the reformer Comstock drew the attention of the world to her, she explained, she was about to . make her debut into Parisian society. A slender, exquisite, blonde wisp of a girl, it mattered enormously to her at the time that her association with the HE VOWED TO KEEP HIS MODEL'S SECKET And Paul Chabai, Above, Who Painted "September Morn," Never Deviated from His Pledge of Silence. Maitre CJiabw Is Now Eighty, HI, and BBS Retired to His, Farm la the Country, South of Paris. Nudity Is Now Featured in Stage Revues, at Night Clabs and in Side Shovvg Without Stirring Afore Than a Ripple. Above, Advertisement of a Restaurant and One of Its Dancers Who Wears a "September Morn" Costume. much-talked-of canvas should remain unknown. "Bat BOW," she laughed amusedly. "well, it really doesn't matter any more, I suppose. I shall he very glsd to tell you tit about everything. la fact, after keeping the secret ill these years, it will do me good to tell about it." As she looked back over the years, however, Mme. .Delve's eyes clouded. "What that man Comstock did in* ined my life," she explained solemnly. "Ruined it as life was understood in the old days before the war. In those days we had our traditions. Service to · art was one of them. Scandal was Quite another thing! "During the time of the Italian Renaissance Simonetta had posed in the nude for Botticelli. Princess Pauline Sorghese, sister of the great tfapoleon, had posed in the same way for the great sculptor, "Canova. But French society people think always of Diane de Poitiers, the closest 'friend' of two of our tings, Francis I *nd his nephew. Henry II. Her beautiful body has been preserved for us *tt to admire by the painters and sculptors of her time. "She had considered it an honor to pose for them, and had been very happy to do so." Mme. Delve's wid«, blue eyes closed in remembrance. "So my mother consented when Maitre Chabas, who had known me from my babyhood, asked me to pose for him." Vividly she described the scene. How nervous she was as she disrobed and took up a position on the model's stand in the big room all filled with dancing lights and shadows. How her mother had continued talking to her in an effort to divert her mind and .keep her from being overly nervous. How Mme. Chabas, seated at the piano, rendered soothing tunes. "Instinctively," explained Suzanne Delve, "I took the pose that you have seen immortalized /a September Horn, or Le Crepuscue, as it is called on the Continent. 'Hold ill' Chabas cried in a quiet but firm voice. And so I remained like that oa the model's stand." Mme. Delve went on to expiain that the painting was not made at Lake Anneey as many people still suppose. It was merely filled in and finished there. In France Chabas' masterpiece was awarded a modest medal at the Salon, and nobody gave it a second thought. That is, not until a New Tork art firm bought it, put it on display, and thus attracted the attention of white- whiskered Mr. Comstock. The reformer succeeded to getting "September Morn" on toe front page of every newspaper In the land. And reproductions commenced to bioom on candy boxes, calendars, suspenders and post* cards. In New Orleans an enterprising newspaper reporter, about the same time, saw a story in the picture, which he had first spied on the wall of a saloon. He raised loud cries over the picture's "Indecency" and finally suc- ' WHT AMERICA WENT "NUDE CONSCIOUS" Cf 1912 A Reproduction of the Never-to- Be-Porgotten "September Morn," Which Caused a Furore a Quarter of a Century Ago, After Reformer Anthony Comstock Spied It In an Art Store Window m New Tork. ceeded-in-evoking the interest of the city'a Watch .and Ward Society, consisting of two old spinsters. Naturally, in that era when men were men and ladles weren't nudies, the old ladies were horrified, and did their level best to suppress the picture. Ironically enough, that same New Orleans reporter, Harold Rosa, a native of Aspen, Colo., is today editor of the "New Yorker," the last word in modem sophistication among magazines. The furore that was raised over "September Morn" by the reformers of the time had repercussions in Europe. "That," said Mme. Delve,'musingly, "was when we all took a vow of secrecy. It has never been broken, that vow, until DOW. But in spite of that vow, and the fidelity with which it has been kept, my life was completely ruined." "fust how could that 6e?" sne waa asked. "Well, to a French husband, the fact that my youth had been preserved on canvas would not have mattered, but that I had been the center of a scandal --my! zayl that would have driven him simply crazy. I was too young then to dare ask any of my suitort to risk it. And the thought of marrying w/tAr oat telling, of maybe someday being found out and harried by publicity--* the very thought paralyzed me with fear. . "My family was heartbroken," she said, "but of course they realized finally that I was right. They were comforted when I took first prize at the conservatory for both tragedy and comedy, and glad of the money I made on the stage when the war reduced our resources. It was then that I -resumed posing again. "I was the model for the Marguerite aux Sabats, Dugaan Bouveret's now famous painting, and my stage work has taken me even to Hollywood." A few years ago she finally did marry, a Russian. They arc now divorced. Meanwhile times have changed decidedly. Now the New York night clubs and "hot spots" are filled with galaxies of b e a u t i f u l "September Eves." The Gypsy Rose Lees, the Sally Rands and the Faith Bacons are legion. Ironically, it was in Paris that the latest scandal centering about nudity arose. Joan Warner, dancer from Nebraska, shocked the French capital, it was charged by authorities, by "dancing without visible clothing." She was haled into court and.fined. The original "September Morn" painting is now in the Paris home of the Armenian oil magnate, Gulbenkian. He doesn't know Mme. Delve's age. Copyright, 1S37, King Features Syndicate. Inc.

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