THE LAY FIGURE AT HOME.
It was the Lay Figure (no doubt
suffering from the gloom consequent
upon the perusal of many Christmas
numbers), who, resting its face on its hands like
one of Mr. Joseph Pennell's Devils of Notre Dame,
began the new year with a croak of woe.
" The twenty thousand pictures, beautifully
framed, that were sent to the London Exhibitions
alone during 1893, fill me with sadness," it said.
" And quite twice that number must have been
finished, but never even framed," said the man
with the clay pipe.
" Why ? " broke in the City man, who drops in
often for a gossip. "Why, when times are so
bad, do not painters go In for black and white ? "
"And so finally swamp a field already over-
crowded," the journalist rejoined.
"If the British public have still profound
reverence for Art," queried the Lay Figure, " why
do not they unbutton their pockets for it ? "
" Because they are mostly empty, and people
never unbutton empty pockets," the City man
suggested. " Besides," he continued, " the artists
in embryo at the Government Schools alone are
almost equal to an army corps."
" The Navy cries out for officers," said the man
with the clay pipe; " the Church owns to a
paucity of curates; yet Art, who should never
recruit and do her best to repel all but the most
powerful talent, has a vast machine working to turn
out commonplace draughtsmen and colourists."
" This is all quite obvious," said the journalist;
" why reiterate it ? What I want the painter to
do is to increase the beauty of the world according
to the ingenious theory of a '48 artist, who wrote
to the Westminster Gazette."
"You mean the man who said that because the
Burne-Jones-Ellen-Terry type had caused many
girls hitherto below the Book of Beauty average to
discover themselves aesthetic heroines, that thereby
they grew pretty, and as a nation this generation
was better-looking," said the City man.
" Is not that altering our ideal of beauty, and
merely admitting plain people ? " said the man with
the clay pipe. " It is as if one who decided that
155. a week was luxury, should say England at
last was a nation of wealthy people."
"Anyway," the Lay Figure broke in, "if
people think themselves good-looking they will
have their portraits painted, because a camera
sometimes fails to coincide with their opinion."
" The Art furnisher is the true enemy to Art,"
the journalist said. " Not because he defies the
Arts and Crafts, but because he leaves no room on
the walls for pictures."
" It seems hard on the younger men;" the
journalist spoke in an introspective way. " Of
course there is always room at the top."
" You mean they can get skied everywhere, even
in a back drawing-room," said the Lay Figure.
" People don't buy the top line by the yard now."
" It is harder on the old," the man with the
clay pipe retorted. " I think to see a fine old
fellow, with a grey beard, realising that his market
has closed for ever, is even sadder than to see him
" Art is a very depressing profession," said the
Lay Figure; " that is why people try to mix morals
with it—to fall back on its elevating effect—when
they realise how ill-paid it is."
"Therefore, if a lad or a girl with a taste for Art
came to you," began the Lay Figure-
" I would put every obstacle in their way," the
journalist continued. " Barriers are for those who
cannot fly, and if talent is not strong enough to
overcome the first obstacles, what hope is there
that it will succeed ultimately ? "
" I cannot see," the journalist observed, " why a
man who does good black and white for the press
should not reserve his copyright, arrange for a
duplicate electro, and issue proofs of his works at
popular prices. As it is, the drawings are soiled
and wasted, the impressions are usually worthless
owing to the exigencies of rapid printing, and the
numbers themselves get lost and torn."
" What could one do with a quantity of artists'
proofs of pen-drawings ? " said the Lay Figure.
"I think," the journalist said, "everybody
should keep in one of the rooms of his house a
series of frames, made with movable backs, and
change his ' black and white' frequently, so that
there would be always something new to discuss
when people came in."
" Make every room a perpetual gallery, with a
constantly new exhibition," the City man observed.
" Then we should need a Mudie for engravings."
" Why not ? The circulating gallery might be
a real pioneer for Art," was the comment of the
man with the clay pipe. " That would be profit-
able all round."
" I had rather be a frame-maker than a painter
now." The City man uttered this in a commercial,
" They must give long credit," said the man
with the clay pipe, in a far-off speculative tone, as
one who had only studied the subject theoretically.