The Marble Faun Volume 1 (Chapter 14)

 
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Chapter 14 : Page 1 of 8

"My new statue!" said Kenyon, who had positively forgotten it in the
thought of Hilda; "here it is, under this veil." "Not a nude figure,
I hope," observed Miriam. "Every young sculptor seems to think that he
must give the world some specimen of indecorous womanhood, and call it
Eve, Venus, a Nymph, or any name that may apologize for a lack of
decent clothing. I am weary, even more than I am ashamed, of seeing such
things. Nowadays people are as good as born in their clothes, and
there is practically not a nude human being in existence. An artist,
therefore, as you must candidly confess, cannot sculpture nudity with a
pure heart, if only because he is compelled to steal guilty glimpses
at hired models. The marble inevitably loses its chastity under such
circumstances. An old Greek sculptor, no doubt, found his models in the
open sunshine, and among pure and princely maidens, and thus the nude
statues of antiquity are as modest as violets, and sufficiently draped
in their own beauty. But as for Mr. Gibson's colored Venuses (stained, I
believe, with tobacco juice), and all other nudities of to-day, I really
do not understand what they have to say to this generation, and would be
glad to see as many heaps of quicklime in their stead."

"You are severe upon the professors of my art," said Kenyon, half
smiling, half seriously; "not that you are wholly wrong, either. We are
bound to accept drapery of some kind, and make the best of it. But
what are we to do? Must we adopt the costume of to-day, and carve, for
example, a Venus in a hoop-petticoat?"

 
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