Painters in Winter: Chapter Eighteen

"The Eight" show catalog

“The Eight” show catalog

As a rule, William Macbeth doesn’t appear at his gallery before ten-thirty or eleven o’clock–there’s never enough business in the mornings to warrant his coming in any sooner; besides, he has three young men quite capable of unlocking the door, dusting the picture frames, slitting open the first mail. But this Monday–February 3, 1908–he makes a rare exception, showing up at twenty minutes before nine. 

Yesterday’s newspapers were just full of the exhibition (naturally playing up the artists’ squabble with the National Academy and giving short shrift to the actual pictures on the wall, but no matter: ink is ink), and Macbeth suspects that he might be needed rather earlier than usual. Which is precisely the case. Stepping off the elevator, he finds a dozen people already in the corridor, waiting to get inside for a look.

Instantly, with a dealer’s acumen, he categorizes them in his mind, separating the art students from the merely curious, the merely curious from the potential buyers. And he’s delighted to see four of those. Delighted and relieved. Because last evening he got no less than six telephone calls, each caller a valued client as well as a gentleman listed in the Social Register. All expressing displeasure–dismay!–at the seamy clamor surrounding the exhibition. Sir: if these pictures are even half as vulgar as I’ve heard them described, I shall feel it necessary to advise friends and associates to avoid patronizing your establishment in the future. Sir: are you aware that these artists whom you are currently sponsoring have been called the Revolutionary Black Gang? Revolutionary, sir! Revolutionary! I am shocked. Sir: have you taken leave of your senses? Sir: pornography is a crime, pornography is a sin. Sir! Sir! Sir! Sir!

Drawing a key from his pocket, Macbeth unlocks the door, pushes it open, and stands aside.

In a spacious oak-paneled office on the twelfth floor of the huge Butterick Building–Spring Street, at MacDougal–the editor-in-chief of the women’s-magazine group (The Delineator, The Designers, and New Idea) is feeling bedeviled this morning and out of sorts. There’s just too much to do, too much to think about, too many decisions, and him just returned from an extended sick-leave and still tender after surgery–appendectomy. He nearly died, and that changes a man, especially a man in his middle-thirties–sobers him right up. But can he find any time to reflect on serious, consequential things–the lesson of disease? the brevity of life? His own mortality? No! How can he, when there are boards to approve, galleys to correct, copy to edit? Correspondence to answer. And here comes the Beauty Editor, barging in! With an idea: Vitamins for Healthful Hair. Do it, says Theodore Dreiser, and shoos her out of his office.

Slumping into his chair, he swallows a handful of prescription tablets with a glass of cloudy water, then begins to blue-pencil an article about the problems of nursing. By Dr. Leonard K. Hirschberg. Actually, by a freelance writer from Baltimore, Harry Louis Mencken. Dreiser sorely wishes that he could use a pseudonym, it’s damn embarrassing to see his name month after month topping the mastheads of these idiotic magazines for weak-minded, middle-class females! He knows that his literary friends snicker about it–constantly–but are they earning $5,000 a year? Hardly. So let them laugh, he’s saving his money…and one day he’ll walk away from this place, flush enough to live exactly as he pleases. But a pseudonym would be nice.

It is unwise to keep a child at the breast for more than ten or fifteen minutes.

Change that to: It is rarely safe to keep a child at the breast for longer than ten or fifteen minutes.

Dreiser pauses, chewing on the end of his pencil and staring out the window at the Statue of Liberty. Then he pulls open the top desk drawer and hunts around for–ah, here it is! a notice cut from the Evening Post. Headline: The “Eight” at Macbeth’s. He scans it for the gallery’s address, and the exhibition hours, then he frowns, and takes out his pocket watch. Twenty past eleven. He really shouldn’t even dream of slipping away just now, there’s simply too much to do; on the other hand, he’s been waiting, with great anticipation, for this particular show. This “outlaw salon,” as another newspaper he saw yesterday scornfully dubbed it.

For some time now, he’s been following the careers of Robert Henri and Everett Shinn, and George Luks, as well. Glackens, too, but to a somewhat lesser degree. Last spring, Dreiser happened to come upon several etchings by Sloan, he can’t remember where, exactly–and wants very much to know what the man can do in oil. These “city realists” interest him, keenly. He’s even thought of sending each of them an inscribed copy of Sister Carrie, in the spirit of comradeship. Dreiser feels that these painters and he are of a like mind, and pursuing similar ends. The unflinching depiction of American life in the raw. Just as they’ve struggled against the old grannies of art, he’s scrapped with similar types, and met with identical truculence and persecution, in the literary world. (The sentimentalists damned near crucified him for Carrie when it first came out eight years ago–and they weren’t all that much kinder last May when, at Dreiser’s own considerable expense, it was reissued.)

The hell with nursing mothers and their sore nipples! With cookery and homemaking and the bright sayings of children! He’s going to Macbeth’s! (Does it look like rain? Should he take an umbrella? Wear his overshoes? No–it’s merely cloudy.)

On the way to the elevator, he is intercepted by G.W. Wilder, the publisher, who inquires peevishly just where, exactly, does Dreiser think he’s going. At…(checking his watch)…eleven-thirty, on a day when two magazines are to close?

Trade show, answers Dreiser. Nursery toys. Be back in an hour.

As he hurries into the elevator cage, the publisher calls after him, I expect to see your Teddy Bear editorial before one o’clock.

Yes, sir.

Meanwhile: swearing to himself. Teddy Bear editorial! Anti-Teddy Bear editorial. Mr. Wilder has worked himself into a real lather over teddy bears. Ever since their appearance on the market several years ago, it’s been a national craze, little girls all across the nation dragging around these…furry monstrosities. Instead of dollies. That require doll clothes. Patterns for which, not incidentally, are created and sold by the Butterick Company. Thundered the publisher last Friday afternoon: We are going to destroy the Teddy Bear, once and for all!

Yes, sir, said Dreiser.

And now, seated in a hansom cab bound for Macbeth’s Galleries, he crosses one knee over the other, and drafts his editorial on the back of a business envelope. Take away the little girl’s dolly, he writes, and you have interfered with the nascent expression of motherhood. You have implanted the race-suicide idea where it works the most hard–in the very hearts of the babes themselves. Mothers! Bring your babies back to dollies, or you will have weaned the grownups of the future from the babies that will never be.

Finished, he folds the envelope in half, and sticks it away into his coat. But what’s that sound–that tattoo on the roof? It’s raining! Damn it all, it’s begun to rain! And Dreiser with no overshoes! Without an umbrella! This is just fine! Oh, this is just fine and dandy! If he gets soaked and comes down this evening with a bad cold, he’ll get no sympathy from his wife. Because she told him when he left the flat this morning, she warned him, Now don’t go anywhere today without your overshoes and an umbrella, it’s going to rain, I feel it in my elbow. Now, promise me, Honeybugs, that you won’t go out in the rain without protection.

And he promised, but then broke his promise, and now look! It’s pouring out!

And it’s still pouring when the cab arrives at the gallery, so Theodore Dreiser instructs the hack man to just keep going, to keep going around and around the block till the goddamn clouds roll away.

Macbeth has never seen anything to match it, and he’s been in the art business for more than twenty years. The place is jammed, has been since nine-thirty: men and women, at least 300 an hour, pushing and shoving, jostling and elbowing one another, standing on their tiptoes; surging. What a glorious hubbub! An event. If this keeps up, the catalogs will be gone by tomorrow. And the elevator operator dead from exhaustion. Wonderful!

Suddenly: another bark of derisive laughter. This time directed at George Luks’ Woman with Macaws. (Parrots!) And now a groan of revulsion; the object–Robert Henri’s Laughing Child. (Looks like an inbreed!) And yet another exclamation of priggish chagrin, over by the wall of Sloans. No doubt occasioned by a lady’s first glimpse at The Cot. Gets ’em every time. It’s erotic, all right, even though the lady in the picture is wearing a two-dollar department-store nightgown and doing nothing saucier than inspecting her toes. It’s the cleavage. Leaning over the way she is, you can see a bit of her cleavage. It’s the cleavage. And the rumpled bedclothes. And the mood. Women have been blushing before it all morning long. And men harrumphing: as they take their second, third…and fourth looks at it.

Mr. William Macbeth sits placidly smiling behind his desk; out of view, his feet and legs, meanwhile, are doing a rather antic jig. Gracious! This is going to be good!

Here comes the elevator again!  

Sloan can’t be serious. Not going? How can he not go? After all the preparation, the hard work, the anxiety, Sloan simply must go and see for himself. Crowds, Jack! You heard what Mr. Macbeth said on the telephone–crowds! Oh, come along with us, says Dolly, all bundled up in her coat, hat on and ready to leave. You deserve to see this.

But Sloan stubbornly shakes his head. The paintings will be hanging a full two weeks–he’ll go some other day. He’s far too busy this afternoon for any gallivanting: there’s a word-puzzle he must design for the Philadelphia Press; design, and then mail before the post office closes. And he has to look over a long story that he’s supposed to illustrate for Collier’s–he hasn’t even read it yet! What if it turns out to be an historical thing, what if he has to run to the library and research costumes? No, he’ll not be going to Macbeth’s today.

Dolly looks crestfallen, and turns pleadingly to Sloan’s illustrator-friend, Rollin Kirby, who’s stopped by with his wife on their way to the exhibition. Make him come, says Dolly. Tell him he must. But Kirby’s with Sloan–if Sloan wants to wait till another day, he should wait. There’s plenty of time, he says, which earns him a grateful smile from Sloan. At last, Dolly gives up, and after grabbing her handbag and umbrella from the top of the ice-box, she goes out with Mrs. Kirby. And Sloan, at the kitchen table, breathes a long sigh of relief. Kirby says, We’ll tell you all about it. Sloan nods, looking miserable, so miserable that, instead of rushing right out after the women, Kirby comes away from the door, then vigorously taps the tabletop. On the way here, he says, he ran into Guy Pene DuBois, who used to be a student of Henri’s and is now the art critic for Hearst’s Evening Journal. DuBois had already been up to the gallery. And do you know how he described it? Like the Herald Square elevated station at six o’clock on a weekday evening. That crowded, that mad.

Sloan glances up. But what were people saying? he wants to know.

Various things, replies Kirby.

Laughing, though a bit harshly, Sloan gets up from his chair, and carries his coffee cup to the sink. Macbeth tells me there’s been a rather loud chorus of disapproval, he says. Though that doesn’t seem to bother Mr. Macbeth.

Nor should it bother Sloan. According to Kirby, who then, after a moment’s hesitation, relates a metaphor that DuBois used, not twenty minutes ago, to epitomize the whole business: a bull crashing into a dainty drawing room–and then bellowing. Of course people are going to be a little beside themselves, says Kirby. At first.

You’d better run along, suggests Sloan. The ladies must be half-way there by now.

Once Kirby is gone, Sloan fills his pipe, then, using a stove match, lights it on his way into the studio. Rain lashing against the back windows, rattling them. He sits down at his board and smokes. There’s nothing, really, that has to be done today; no puzzle to make, no story to read. All that was only a handy–excuse. He didn’t want to go to the gallery because, well, because he doesn’t have the proper clothes. Everything he owns is pretty shabby and worn, awfully frayed. The clothing of a man who’s just getting by, who’s barely making do. If he went to Macbeth’s today, he’d most certainly run into a throng of art-writers, the majority of them disposed to be unfriendly; art-writers, and other artists–academicians. Who, though despised by Sloan, can still intimidate him. And he’d be goddamned before he’d put himself in front of them so they could look down their noses at him–at his scuffed shoes and threadbare suit, his waistcoat with its unmatched buttons. Later. Another day. He’ll slip over there another day, once the initial clamor is over; after his enemies have come, attacked, and gone away.

Fled! thinks Sloan, brightening. Been rousted! After they’ve fallen back to lick their wounds–eh?

He bends over and knocks his pipe against the inside of a wastebasket. After pocketing it, he walks to one of the windows. Across the alley, in a tenement kitchen, a woman with bright-red hair is wandering around with a bowl of batter secured in the crook of one arm; with her free hand, she’s stirring it, using a heavy wooden spoon. Judging by the pursed set of her mouth, she’s whistling. Red hair. Blue bowl. Brown spoon. Gray batter.

And she’s whistling.

Sloan pulls up a stool….

Since his return from Congers last evening, Arthur B. Davies has been nervous and irritable, as terror-stricken as a fugitive at bay; wringing his hands, pulling at his hair, pacing the floor and flinging himself onto the sofa. And all because of the newspaper clippings that Edna showed him the minute he came through the door. His photograph in four of them! His photograph! He had no idea there’d be photographs of the artists; he just assumed that if there were to be any pictures at all, they’d be of the paintings! This is outrageous!


Edna saying, Must you use that word again?

 Yes, he must! Fatal. Fatal, fatal, fatal. Potentially fatal. What if someone here in the building happened to see one of those photographs? Arthur B. Davies? Why, that’s our Mr. Owens. Good lord, what then? Would they say something? What would they say? Who would they tell? Busybodies! What if they should call the police!

Edna, losing patience fast, saying, Now why would anyone do that? It doesn’t say you’re a wanted man, it says you’re a painter.

Living under an assumed name.

It’s not a crime, says Edna.

No? Living under an assumed name with a woman not my wife isn’t a crime?

Well, says Edna, there’s nothing to be done about it. Whatever happens, happens. So you might as well just go to bed.

Which she intended to do, and then did.

But Davies just continued to prowl, and to rant. All night long.

This morning he finally collapsed with nervous exhaustion, and slept for several hours. Edna went out and shopped. When she returned, someone called to her as she was climbing the stairs to their flat. Mrs. Owens! Oh, Mrs. Owens! Edna turned, a hand tightening on the banister, prepared for the worst. It was the pretty little blonde housewife who lived in 2 Front. Mrs. Owens–hello! I’ve been meaning to ask you for ever so long: would you possibly care to come visit with me some afternoon? I feel that we should get to know one another, seeing as how we’re neighbors and all.

Edna, still tingling, closed her eyes and swallowed. Then nodded yes, saying, Of course, it’s very kind of you to ask. But knowing full well that Davies would hit the ceiling if she ever dared to become friendly with anyone, she made no date. Saying only, We’ll have to do that…sometime soon. Then she smiled and continued up the stairs….

It’s now one-thirty in the afternoon. Arthur Davies–Mr. Owens–is buttoning up his water-repellent chesterfield. Mrs. Owens–Edna Potter–is at the mirror, arranging her hat. She can see his reflection: he’s glaring at her. But no matter–she won’t be dissuaded. She is going with him. She is going to the gallery, and that is that! All ready, she says.

He proceeds down the stairs, his head snapping from side to side, his body flinching when he mistakes a creaking tread for a doorknob turning. That man! Is almost more than Edna can bear. Look at him: certain that everyone in the building is peeking out. Such vanity! Such irrationality. Such cowardice. She pities him, and feels buried–and wondering for how long this smothering secret of theirs can, even should, be kept, she follows Davies out the front door and down to the curb.

Sometime later. Two blocks north, and one avenue east of Macbeth’s, Davies stops the cab. And turns to Edna. We shouldn’t arrive together. I think you should walk from here.

It’s raining!

You insisted upon coming, he says.

Then you walk.

Edna, this is my exhibition.

She folds her arms and stares straight ahead.

Then, as he’s climbing out, grumbling bitterly to himself, Edna reminds him to pay the cab man now. She has, she says, no intention of using her own money. Whose money? says Davies, and slams the door.

The Shinns and the Glackenses are visiting the exhibition together–if they can manage to ever get through the front door! There’s a line, look at that line of people, three and four and five abreast, stretching down the corridor, blocking passage. The artists’ wives, each wearing a full-length cape and a  stylish new hat purchased just for this occasion, are duly impressed, Edith Glackens especially. It reminds her of Coney Island, one of her favorite places, though she’d never admit such a thing to the Dimocks of West Hartford (or that she’d gone into labor there last July). Squeezing her husband’s arm now, she leans happily against him, and winks. Oh, Willy! And Glackens, seeming to puff right up, beams with pleasure. (His wife! His best girl!) Flossie Shinn waves to several lady-friends, standing farther up the corridor, then cocks her head proudly toward her husband. As if to say, How about this!

Everett Shinn, having taken off and pocketed his big rain-glasses with the motorized wipers (patent pending), now strokes his jaw. Well! There’s no reason for us to stand on line. This is our show! Follow me, he says, and promptly begins to press through the crowd. Calling at the top of his voice, Two of the Eight here! Two of the Eight, coming through with their wives! Make way! (Reminding Glackens of what Shinn suggested during last week’s meeting at Henri’s studio: Instead of spending a lot of money on newspaper advertisements, let’s just make some placards and march up Fifth Avenue. Let’s! Shinn had even offered to compose a marching song.) 

Two of the Eight, coming through!

Nearing the gallery door, Shinn abruptly stops, exclaims in surprise–then reaches out with both arms, like a faith healer to an old beggar on crutches. Ladies and gentlemen, he says to the crowd (dubious, at best,  regarding Shinn’s claims for himself and his companions), I’m blessed if it’s not still another one of us!

Maurice Prendergast.

Who’s been waiting out here on line for almost fifteen minutes, and quite contentedly, too. He and his brother Charles have met and struck up a conversation with just the nicest gentleman–Prendergast didn’t catch his name, but he works for the Pennsylvania Railroad, as some sort of manager, and has been to Venice. Many times. In fact, it’s what they’ve all been gabbing about, the splendor of that city–and now here’s young Shinn pulling Prendergast away, insisting that he move to the front of the line, embarrassing him. It’s really very embarrassing. Prendergast hates it whenever attention is called to himself. And now everyone is staring, and many are frowning, and he’s being carried along and through the door, and Glackens, bumped up against him, is laughing and telling him something, which Prendergast strains to make out, but cannot. With such a bewildering number of people, all jammed into a couple of smallish rooms and talking at once, it’s quite impossible for him to catch even a single word of what anyone is saying.

Somehow, without his having steered himself, he’s been delivered by the flow to his own section of the gallery, and now he stands before a short, thickset man in a pinstripe woolen suit who leans forward on his toes to study the St. Malo beach sketches. Noticing the white-haired fellow at his elbow, the man mumbles something (It’s just a lot of blotches), and Prendergast nods amiably. Whoever painted this stuff must’ve been drunk on French wine, says the man. And Prendergast, with the fervid hope that he hasn’t just been asked some direct question, crinkles up the corners of his eyes and smiles.

Everett Shinn, in the meantime, has led Flossie to his pictures. Folding his arms across his chest and tipping his head back (in precisely the same suave way that his good friend David Belasco, the playwright and impresario, does it, anticipating a compliment), he poses.

But his effort is lost on Flossie; to her, he just seems, now as ever, the most darling wonderful boy. Flushed, jolly, and utterly full of himself. Oh, he expects her to gush, and since she would do anything (almost anything) for her darling boy, she does, she gushes, she flatters, telling him what he wants to hear, how cleverly he’s arranged his paintings, how fine they all look on the wall, how impossible it would be for her to choose a favorite. Though she does think that London Hippodrome, with its flying acrobats, is really quite spectacular. But then…so is The Orchestra Pit. So is The White Ballet. So are all of his theatre paintings. So is everything!

As Shinn listens and nods and smiles, his gaze drifts from his wife’s face, lingers for a moment on each one of his pictures, and then, after he’s turned his head slightly, it wanders–skips–all around the gallery: there’s old Kenyon Cox from the Art Students League, looking disheveled and disgruntled and lugubrious, and there’s DeKay from the Times (he’ll burn us, for sure), and there’s his pal Jimmy Preston (but where’s the pretty Mrs. Preston?), and there’s Ernie, his hair damp from the rain, and there’s Henri with a student contingent, mother hen and chicks: good lord! he’s giving a lecture, gesturing famously at his portrait of a Dutch girl; and over there, two men carrying lunch pails–they both look as though they might’ve just crawled up from digging the McAdoo Tunnel; their trousers are caked with greenish mud, and they’re having a grand old time staring at John Sloan’s Sixth Avenue street scene, one of them pointing a thick finger at the elevated-railroad tracks, clearly amazed that somebody would actually paint them–our elevated! And over there…that’s Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the sculptress, the very rich sculptress, talking animatedly with Macbeth, whose face is fairly glowing, and over there, standing before Lawson’s rather meager display of four landscapes–

–Is a most exotic-looking woman, exceedingly tall, with dark hair and creamy skin and good cheekbones, and very fine features.

And the picture frames, Flossie is saying, are just perfect!

With a distracted, mildly quizzical grunt–hmmm?–Shinn narrows his eyes, willing this dark-haired…apparition (a model, surely; or should be) to glance up from her catalog, to turn, a mere half-turn would be sufficient, and notice him. If she only would, he could…

He could what? Do nothing!

Everett? Flossie is tugging on his sleeve, her litany finished, her praise song done. Everett? Shall we go and see the rest of the show now?


Who now inclines his head, yes, yes, struggling to keep his sudden petulance in check. Smiling and patting his wife’s cool hand when she hooks her arm through his, then squiring her through the crowd with a practiced gentlemanly air of polish and urbanity, though his inclination is to do nothing less than to hurl himself down upon the lacquered floor and thrash about, kicking and pounding and wailing.

Edna Potter is very much taken by the small winter landscapes of Ernest Lawson, is touched by their qualities of desolation and sunless chill, their mournful gray light. She would paint like this, perhaps, if she were permitted to paint. She consults the catalog once again, entertaining a notion that she might inquire about prices at the desk. But what would the point be? She has no money of her own to spend, and as far as Davies is concerned, no taste or good judgment in matters of art. He can buy pictures, not Edna, and whenever she dares to express an uncomplimentary opinion about something he’s purchased and brought home–as, for example, she did late last month, about those beastly Rodin scribbles–he flies into a rage and scolds her like a minister.

Davies is here somewhere–she saw him come in awhile ago, his expression grumpy, his eyeglasses speckled with rain. They even passed one another crossing the gallery, moving in opposite directions, but he never displayed the slightest glimmer of recognition, and neither, of course, did she.

As Edna is about to move on, she notices, in the crowd, about six feet away: a man watching her; a good-looking, wavy-haired man with a brown thick mustache, and dark eyes that strike Edna as infinitely sad. She’s quite certain that she doesn’t know him, and yet there’s something familiar about his face. Of course! She saw his picture only yesterday, printed in two or three newspapers along with Arthur’s. It’s Mr. Lawson–why, it’s Ernest Lawson who’s watching her, wondering, no doubt, what she thinks of his pictures. But when she begins to approach him, he looks almost stricken, and moves to escape.

Mr. Lawson! she calls, and then catching him up, extends her congratulations, to him and to his fellow artists. I’ve just been admiring your pictures, she says, and I think they’re very good, indeed. At the compliment, Lawson’s eyebrows go up and his mouth opens, he appears to grow two full inches, and his air of melancholy vanishes, utterly. Which Edna finds amusing, and very charming; Arthur is never surprised when anyone praises work of his, or, for that matter, especially gratified. Or appreciative. 

I wish you good luck, says Edna, and much success, then she turns to go.

Wait, says Lawson. I–well, thank you so much. And taking a step toward her, asks, Have we met before? You knew who I was.

Edna laughs. But you’re very well known.

That’s kind of you to say, but I hardly think so.

I saw your photograph in the newspaper.

Ah! Lawson nods, and then (having just seen Edith Glackens blaze with anger at some pompous silk-hat who’d scoffed at Willy’s pictures and called them anemic…and earlier, having discovered George and Babe Luks huddled in an alcove, sipping whiskey from that old rascal’s walking-stick flask…and having glimpsed, again and again, Everett and Flossie Shinn wandering the galleries arm in arm…and having received this morning a letter from Ella saying no, she and the children would not be coming to New York for the exhibition, and just where did her husband expect them to find the money to make such a trip), he says to Edna Potter, I wonder–I wonder if you’d care to have dinner with me this evening, Miss…

Mrs., says Edna, and saying it with the most acute regret; Mrs. David Owens.

Turning bright red, Lawson begs her pardon and backs away, feeling stupid and deflated (by about two inches), and badly in need of a drink….

Mr. William Macbeth has finally managed to slip away into his private office, to lock the door and sit down behind his desk and eat a cold lunch–half a chicken and two slices of buttered bread. Outside, the crowd hums like some powerful machine. A machine, thinks Macbeth, made up of the most extraordinary, and manifold, array of moving parts. Why, in those two small galleries out front you can find millionaires and stenographers, shoe clerks and brewers and Wall Street bankers. The actress Julia Marlowe. With Clyde Fitch. College-men from Columbia, and–unless Macbeth is sorely mistaken–several prostitutes. Public-school teachers. Aldermen. The Vice-President and the Secretary of the New York Athletic Club–though by now they may’ve left. Novelists and journalists, and pressmen who took the subway uptown from Newspaper Row. A Vanderbilt or two. Alfred Stieglitz. And some telephone operators. A Catholic priest. A Fifth Avenue horse-bus driver with his change-maker still on his belt. Curators from the Metropolitan Museum, bonneted ladies from the Children’s Aid Society. Artists in top-hats, artists in corduroy trousers. Elsie deWolfe, the decorator. An Italian barber, smock and all. There was even a Negro (the shabbiest fellow you ever saw) who tried to get in!

Macbeth never expected all this–interest. Though he’s willing to give credit where credit is due: to Mr. Robert Henri, the indefatigable propagandist. Has there ever been an art exhibit in New York with more publicity? Months of it! Nothing intrigues like a feud. Choose your side! Join ranks! This is America, ain’t it? Even in the visitors’ registers (already three have been filled today) the controversy rages, in tidy script and scarcely legible scrawl, in blue ink, black ink, pencil, even crayon. Impressively phrased, phonetically spelled. And so many exclamation marks! Grotesque! Vulgar! I think its grate, espeshily the guy that painted the pigs!

Dabbing his mouth with his napkin, Macbeth stands up from his chair, then, before  going back out to the circus, he checks his watch. A quarter past two. Over three and a half hours yet before closing! At the rate they’ve been coming since early this morning, that’s yet another thousand people.

More than twice the number that tiptoe through the National Academy of Design in a week.

Now, thinks Macbeth, stepping through the door, if only just one or two of them would buy something…

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