2 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections
- THE MASK MYSTERY A PARIS SENSATION. "La Femme au Masque," the presen- tation of a photograph of which to the 1 Judges in a court a few months ago by a well-known barrister, with the assertion that one of the parties in that particular lawsuit was the model, has been so resented by the lady in question, had already been the cause of a good deal of annoyance. Thus when it was exhibited at the Salon years ago speculation was rife, many people arguing that the charms of some fashionable woman must have been reproduced in the picture, which created a tremendous sensation. One gentleman, indeed, actually went so far as to arrive at the firm conviction that his wife had been the model. He accordingly sent a couple of friends to M. Gervex with a request for an explanation, but although - the name and address of the girl who had really figured in that capacity were given, he would not be appeased, and a duel, in which he was wounded, fol lowed. Only yesterday, in a conversa tion with the friend who reminds us of this episode, M. Gervex expressed the opinion that his old adversary still felt as certain as ever that his wife had been the culprit. As a matter of fact the model was Mdlle. Marie Renard, who is now thirty-nine years of age, and had con sequently seen twenty-two springs in 18S5. when the famous picture was painted. She was interviewed this morning by a representative of the "Patrie," not far from her home, and, according to the writer, who gives an amusing account of her conversation, she said that it was lucky that he had not had a chance of broaching the sub ject there, as, her fond mother, with whom she dwells, had entertained the blissful notion that during the twenty four years in which she has been posing as a model, she has never revealed more than her face and pretty bust to the artist's eye, and she does not care to dispel this comfortable illusion. Cer tainly, she continued, it was she who was the model for the "Femme au Masque," and then she gave her piquant version of its origin. One day in 1885 a lady called on M. Gervex with an order for a "nu," leaving the details to him. He made two sketches, and one having been selected, he set to work. The sitting lasted throughout the month of July, the fair model being daily at the studio from ten o'clock to noon. "Numbers of friends lounged in, and one of them having suggested the addition of the domino while she was resting, a trial was made, much to the delight of the painter, who, catching at the novel idea, exclaimed, "She is very well like that! She will retain the domino!" Thus was "La Femme au Masque" adopted, and, concluded Mdlle. Renard, with a laugh, "later on, when the picture was sent to the Salon, the mystery of the fact created a lively sensation. People would have it that the 'masked woman' was not an ordinary model. But here she is!:' Such. at least, is her version, as reproduced this after noon. M. Gervex himself says the same 'thing. In a letter which he wrote in May to Maitre Ployer, the lawyer of Madame du Gast, the lady who is so indignant at having been represented by Maitre Bar boux as "La Femme au Masque," he stated: "I can certify t you that I do not know Madame du Gast, and that conse I quently she cannot have been the model for the 'Femme au Masque'. Besides, it is Mdlle. Marie Renard who 'posed' for this picture, and it is easy to verify this." What did Maitre Barboux say when he showed the photograph to the judges? According to the shorthand report just reproduced, after Madame du Gast had protested he remarked: "I do not imagine thaJt it is the affirmation of these really nmarvellous external gifts which can wound her, but you know that nature with curious capriciousness, sometimes delights in spoiling her most beautiful works. If she had infused a noble and pure soul into this elegant form, this woman would have been one of the won ders of creation." Madame du Gast is intensely angry. Her efforts to induce Maitre Barboux to retract having passed unnoticed, she had applied to different officials with a view to the institution of legal proceedings, but so far in vain, as she has been sen't by one to another, from pillar to post as the saying goes, so far without any result. It'may be re garded as peculiar that Maitre Barboux dragged in that photograph and spoke as he did, but, without special reference to this particular question, it may be ex plained that French barristers, as well as judges, are allowed any amount of license and that proceedings that would not be tolerated for a moment in an English law court are considered quite fair and natural in this country. In was on May 3 that the photograph scene occurred at one of the metropolitan police-courts, and six days later Mladame du Gast wrote 'to the President of the Benchers explaining the position, and begging hm to exercise his influence on Maitre Barboux to obtain a retractation. ~Now for two whole months she has been vainly seeking the redress to which she holds herself entitled. In a letter which she had just addressed to the "Journal des Debats," Madamne du Gast brieflly explains her position. In the course of this missive she says: "I had to repeat my complaint, and the President of the Benchers after having sent five times for me at long intervals, ended by telling me that Maitre Barboux refused all satisfaction. This is how two months have rolled by without Maitre Barboux having received his summons to a police-court." This summons has now been served on him.