The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California on January 22, 1921 · 24
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California · 24

San Francisco, California
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 22, 1921
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TV C T Vi, A 1 TiI l ne ot ft fl :ory rey unson- Intimate Secrets of Studio Life Revealed by tLe Most Perfect, Most Versat of American Models, Whose Face and Figure H Thousands of Modern Masterpieces of Sculpv w A j i ' , ? - ', , v - 1 V '''""' ' HAT is it that has made Miss Audrej Munson the undisputed "Queen of the Studios" for more than ten years? Of the two hundred and more of the foremost artists and scuptora of the United States, for whose masterpieces she has been the inspiration, probably each one would give a different answer to the question. Francis Jones found in her face the purity and sweetness he needed for the stained glass angels in the Church of the Ascension in New York; and the great MacMonnies found in her the inspiration for his vouptuous 'bacchanaJian Sybarite. William Dodge used her bubbling, vivacity for the Spirit of Play in the Amsterdam Theatre frescoes, and yet her serious dignity won for Adolph Weinman the prize in the competitive statues to adorn the top of the great New York Municipal Building and there Audrey Munson stands as "Civic Fame," cast in copper, a gigantic figure twenty feet tall. Sherry Fry could find no one to typify maidenly innocence so well-as Miss Munson, and his appealing "Maidenhood" hangs on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; but Allen Newman also found in her the inspiration for his "Southern Motherhood,' which caps the pinnacle of the Capitol of the State of South Carolina, and yet for the sophisticated woman of the world the sculptress Evelyn, Longman selected her for her "L'Amour" at the Metropolitan Museum. Sp, too, Eonti modeled from her bis charming "Widowhood," Wenzel his charming but frivolous "Madame Butterfly," Pietro his "Suffering Humanity" and Adams his impressive and serious "Priestess of Culture." From the carved caryatides which support the mantelpiece in the main saloon of Mr. Morgan's yacht, the "Corsair," from the exquisite tapestries of Herter in the George Vanderbilt home, from the souvenir dollar of the S nymph on the estate, from the from 24,000 fee. at the Pan-Amei look down upo ; of art. Throughout of the United F urns, private ga residences, pub churches, bridgl-parks and privaf most famous oi models is seen i Audrey Mu story of her lif sodes behind th the unknown hi of many master; vate art collecti tricities and m and the distre. pretty models ance to safeguao of the intimate dios. Audrey story will be tc on thi3 page. An interesting photograph of Audrey Munson, and a statue by D. C. French upon New York's Custom House, of which she was the Insniration. assured me she was too how any youig girl could look forward eagerly to an opportunity to pose with out clotfiing for strange artists I remembered bow abashed I was at my first experience, as I have totd before on these pages But Elsie pleaded with me, and listened with meek atten tion when I warned her of the temptations that would be strewn in her path, and By Audrey' Munson (Continued, from Last Sunday) Copyright, 1921, by International Feature Service, inc. y tOW can a woman be a bacchante all night and- r" become an angel at ten o'clock in the " morning?" V Daniel C. French, dean of American sculptors, whose noble creations in stone, "Miss Manhattan'' at one end, and "Miss Brofiklyn" at the other end of the Williams burgJ3ridge, across the East River, in New York, present me to the view of the hundreds of thousands who cross this great bridge every day in the year, once asked me this question. Perhaps it is an old question, asked of foolish women since the world was young, but I have often thought that the way Mr. French asked it, and the significance of it, had much to do with my later career and taught me one of those lessons 1 needed to learn if J was to preserve the lines of my body and maintain the title I am so proud of "the queen of the studios. It was in a great, ramshackle building on West Tenth street. New York, where studios flank each other on every floor and where a score of artists every day work out their ideals and achieve success or failure according to their talents. Mr. French had received an order from the city of Cambridge, Mass., for an allegorical work to be erected by the city in memory of 4he Cambridge poet, Longfellow. I do not suppose the city fathers of Cambridge knew, when they chose Mr. French, that they were selecting as the sculp-tor for their memorial one who had been deriving inspiration from the great Longfellow throughout his art career, but that ws what they had done. Mr. French used to talk to me of Evangeline and of other poems by the Massachusetts poet hours at a time hours for which he was paying me the regular model's fee of fifty cents an hour. When he knew he was to make the municipal memorial he approached it with more idealism and enthusiasm than he had shown for many years, lie asked me to pose for the angels he wanted to make as a background for his figure of the poet. At that time I could not go to him. I was engaged for all my time with Toyo Kitchui, a photographer, who had been sent to America by a Japanese University to make a series of photographs of a typical American girl to be added to a collection of national types being gathered for the benefit of Japanese students. Later on I shall tell something of these photographs taken of me by Kitchui and of their history in Japan. When I was compelled to refuse Mr. French he sought another model. lie had some difficulty in finding a young woman who could suggest to him the beauty of character end the modesty of demeanor necessary for the angel and Who was, at the same time, sufficiently classic of face. At this time I had in ray care a young girl, Elsie Wellcr, who had been a neighbor and schoolmate in Syracuse, New York, my home, and who had come to me in the city asking if 1 could not find work for her. She had heard I had become a model, and she wanted to be one also. Elsie was the daughter of a good family, her father wns dead, and there had not been much left for her mother. She wanted to help pay the expense of the home at Syracuse. At first I feared for Elsie in the studios. She was an exceptionally pretty girl and she knew her figure was good she was too snre of it, in fact, and that was, to me, not a gorfd sign. I could not quite understand strong to be overcome by them. And as she always bad been a modest, well-behaved girl, 1 believed in her. I introduced Elsie to Alfred Ohr, a painter, and to Francis Foster, a sculptor, both with studios in the West Tenth street building. Both were glad to have her pose. Ohr liked her at first because of the fresh, colorful youth he found in her face, and Foster made her into shapely nymphs his favorite creations. Ohr took her into the open fields on Long Island, and into woodland patches he knew of in the Berkshires, and painted her nude figure -with backgrounds of foliage and tall grasses. Foster carved her into stone from poses in his studio. I had worked for both artists and I knew they were of the type to whom a model could be nothing more than a means to an end a tool of their trade. And so I knew the unsophisticated girl from the little town was safe. Elsie was enthusiastic! She made her home with my mother and me, in our little apartment, and we tried to watch over her carefully. She went with me in the mornings to the studio building, and came home with me in the afternoons after the north light faded. After a few weeks she began to work in the evenings an artist, she said, of whom I knew, but for whom I had not worked, was hurrying some work and using poses at , night. I was not happy at this turn of events with Elsie The artist she named was one whose studio was a thing of beauty, with soft, rich draperies of ancient textiles; with rugs that were softer to the feet than any Velvets, and with decorative corners imported from some foreign collector of things left behind by the Medicis. It was the studio of a dillctante, and not the work shop of a real artist. And yet Some fairly good things had been done there. The artist often had asked me to work for him, but I had been warned to stay away from studios where there was top much luxury, and where there seemed to be too much of the equipment for midnight revels, and I always had followed this advice. Elsie, though, was fascinated. She told me how gentle the. artist was with her, how courteous and gallant. How he amused her and how kind he was in sending her home each night in his car with his chauffeur. Each night Elsie came home later. Her employer was working hard, she said, and kept her posing as long as .fihe could stand St. I was afraid, but I could not bring, myself not to trust her. Then came the time when Elsie arrived one afternoon with a new dress. I had new dresses now and then, too, but I never had been able, up to this time, to afford 6uch a street gown as that one. The label of a fashionable Fifth avenue dressmaker was in the neck band, and the materials were the richest that money could buy. j Mother and I were Worried now I had been a mod :1 then for nearly two years, working hard every day. On my order book there was always a long list of artists who , wanted me for from a day to a month at a time as soon as their turns came. Yet my income never had gone over $30 a week. It was just enough to pay our rent, grocery bills and buy a few clothes once in a while almost nothing for amusements. Occasionally an artist would send me theatre tickets for mother and myself, and, of course,-we were honored guests at the artists' balls that was all the fun we had. I knew Elsie could not afford a new dress, and a ring or two she had procured, and even a taxi now and then on fifty cents an hour. I wanted to write to her mother in Syracuse. But my own mother would not let me. "I know how unhappy it would make her. Perhaps we are doing Elsie an injustice,' she said. I could not make Elsie listen to me when I wanted to talk to her, as she would only say that I was wrong that she merely was being paid extra by the artist in question for work in the evenings. 1 determined, though, I would investigate I felt ret sponsible for Elsie. I went, one night at almost midnight, to the studio building, on the edge of the Park behind the. Astor Library, where the artist lived and worked. The elevator tenders knew me, and when I told them the floor -I wanted took me up without hesitation. I rang the studio bell and the Japanese butler opened the door. He looked wonderingly when he recognized me all the denizens of the studios knew me. I heard singing and boisterous laughter coming out of the studio room. "I have come to get Elsie Mr. Blank's model you know. Send her out to me." The Japanese bowed and disappeared through the draperies. There was a sudden lull inside I knew he was telling his master of the visitor in the hall and her errand. In a moment Elsie came through the draperies and confronted me. She looked as if she might just have stepped off the model's stool her only covering was a' robe held around her nervously, as if she had just thrown ; it on. Her eyes were shining, her hair disheveled, and in place pf the fresh, wholesome youth that had been in her face there was a flush that bespoke cocktails and wine When I saw her I was furious. I threw aside the curtains, ran down the little hall and stepped inside the big room where the draperies and soft rugs were. And i saw before me players and paraphernalia in a bacchanalian,: reVel one of those affairs for which this artist was no-, torions. The girls all were models the sort who go into posing because it is easy work, they think, and who con-seqnently are on the look out for, or easily persuaded," ' into pastimes. The men were the kind of men who are-known as frequenters of just such studios, the usual . friends of the men who support elaborate, luxurious -studios and play at art for no more serious reason than to lure into their clutches beautiful young women with whom they may do as they like after they have broken down their reserve by initiating them into the-freedom ' of posing in the "altogether." It is the cheapest and commonest way of bringing youth and beauty to the midnight revels that are staged under the magic guise of "bohemia.'' This word "Bohemia," which is so often used to desig-nate the world in which painters, sculptors and models work, has done immeasurable injustice to many hardworking models and conscientious artists. .There is no such thing among the world's real artists. What is generally known as "Bohemia" in New York is peopled by only two classes rich men who are only pscudo artists and models who are only pscudo models, and vagabond-ish incompetents who seek to spice the sordidness of their.

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