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Studio: international art — 27.1903

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The Lay Figure

THE LAY FIGURE : NEW YEAR'S its force, and that art was becoming once more a

DAY. thing of auctions, of museums, and of speculative
adventures among the Old Masters. But I changed

"The ist of January is everybody's my mind on the ist of January, after thinking

birthday," said the Reviewer, thoughtfully. "Not . calmly of the last twelve months. The present-day

only do we date our time from it, but on that one movement in the arts had made way, and the

day all the nations of the civilised world have general public had helped its progress by running

generous thoughts in .common. All alike think counter to its excesses."

with tenderness of the bereavements which fell to "Yet there are dangers." said the Critic. "In

their lot in the lasf year; and all alike make Europe at the present time, for example, a great

good resolutions for the future. It is a day of many young painters and sculptors, young designers

truce—a day even of universal romance, for does not and craftsmen, are being trained at the public

everyone feel that the ist of January may be the expense; but how trained, and for what purpose?

beginning of something better in his own character If the purpose be a serious one, then their educa-

or conduct ? We speak of the Adam and Eve in tion in the schools should make them fit for the

human nature. Well, on the first day of the New struggle which they must needs face in the world

Year they celebrate the anniversary of their wedding- of affairs. They should be trained to business

day, and renew their youth with large hopes habits as well as to art, just as students were in the

chastened with sadness and regret. It was a ancient Italian guilds. Yet, somehow, there is not

thought akin to this that caused Charles Lamb to (I believe) a single school in which this need of a

speak of New Year's Day as the nativity of our business training is recognised in a practical

common Adam." manner. This, to my mind, is the greatest danger

"Yes," muttered the Journalist, "there's truth that menaces the modern arts, for we cannot get

in what you suggest, the ist of January has a the best possible work from any young man who is

transcendentalism of its own in the curious exal- hampered and harassed by his ignorance of the

tation of mind that comes to all of us when the world outside his studio."

joy-bells ring it in at midnight. Without the least " Good ! " exclaimed the Designer. " My own

feeling of immodesty I could write a fine epitaph experiences bear out the truth of what you say.

for myself of New Year's Day—a self in many When I left the schools I knew nothing whatever

respects unlike the familiar ego that lives in my about the customs of the manufacturers who might

thoughts and actions during the rest of the year, need my designs, and I passed several years of

It is a visitor that comes unbidden and never grinding poverty before I had confidence enough

outstays its welcome. Perhaps one may call it the to do my business in a businesslike manner. If I

Genius of Progress, for it would not come to me if were asked for the price of this or that, I stammered,

I were utterly broken or degraded by the war of blushed, and looked confused; if anyone tried to

life. There is a universal charity in the minds of get the better of me, I either lost my temper and

men on the ist of January. became abusive, or else I gave way through sheer

" And it is of inestimable value," said the Critic, distaste for haggling over money matters. I was a

" even when looked at from the least ideal stand- fool, a simpleton, reared carelessly by the State

point. New Year's Day is a blessing when con- in a school of art; and you may find scores of

sidered merely as a holiday; it rests the mind, clever youngsters who suffer to-day from the same

warms the heart, and helps us to look at past events defective training."

in a detached frame of mind—a necessary thing " It is pitiful!" the Reviewer cried, excitedly,

very hard to do at the present time, when even " To be a raw recruit in the battle of life is never

the so-called hours of leisure are frequently pleasant, not even in the most favourable circum-

hours of labour in the quest of money. Pressed stances; but when young fellows are started on

in this way by never-ending work, we get down their first campaign without the least knowledge of

at heel in spirit, and are apt to regard every the warfare awaiting them, their lot is a miserable

set-back as a defeat. The arts decline with our one indeed. And I certainly believe that this

hopes—and then revive with them on New Year's matter ought to be well considered in all countries.

Day !" A thorough training in the business customs that

" You don't overstate the case," the Reviewer rule in his branch of art work would be of inestim-

replied, laughing. " In the autumn I was inclined able value to every art student."

to believe that the revival of the crafts had spent The Lay Figure.
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