Where’s Wallace? Women Looking at Men

Six Men, Drawn

Man 1

Me, I don’t like those men looking at me, but it’s a way to earn a crust. I dream I’m in bed with my lover, only she can take me through these hours. They always want me to stay longer but my body’s bent and strained. I managed a pose today that covers my phallus. I hate the scrutiny, the crushing silence and boredom occasionally tempered by a suppressed choke of laughter.

I worry that if I sleep I’ll dream about my girl and my aching part will salute her without my knowing.

The drawing they like is by Antoine. Well, it’s a fair resemblance insofar as I care. Of al the group I mind him least, and he hasn’t clothed me as another.

Man 2

I wondered if they knew I’d killed a man.

I was sleeping rough then – i hadn’t even the few francs I now earn from this. It happened in the Marais. The serving woman in the inn noticed me near the stables and took pity on me. She risked her own employment and I’ll not forget that. She came through a small door at the back with half a flagon of wine and some crusts of bread with cheese. She dropped them by me.

I’d been sleeping in fits, it was cold. I raised myself on one arm and saw some finely dressed men tying their horses. One of them approached me and kicked the wine and crusts into the hay. As he laughed, I found my strength. I leaped to my feet and throttled him with my bare hands. His eyes popped and he drooled as he died. I didn’t care, for I was as hungry and thirsty as before and had no more to show than a dead body and some frightened men anxious to pursue me.

I ran for my life and collapsed in a doorway where I spent the night. When I came to, I was being prodded by a man who seemed to be appraising my body.

“You!” he said “You look like you need a good meal but you’ll have to earn it! Come to the studio at Rue Rascasse 92. We’ll keep you there for 6 hours and you’ll be paid 2 francs. Then you can leave. You’ll have the prospect of a square meal, at least.”

I went there. I had to hold a pose and that hurt my body, I can tell you. But the prospect of eating saw me through – though it was hard not to salivate.

Oreste pursued by fairies. That’s who they pictured. I didn’t know what or whom that was about. I don’t know much and I can’t read. But I can see that it’s my face on the drawing.

In their set up, he’d killed a woman and her lover. But they never knew that I’d really killed, god help me.

Man 3

I’m exhausted. But it seems that my luck is in this week. True, the studio is cold. It’s all very well for them, wrapped up like that. But I’m as naked as the day I was born. My lucky take is that there are no rocks, no props. I’m arranged on my side, they want to get a good look at my buttocks. They aren’t bad either, people have remarked on the strength of their muscles. But I don’t want them getting any closer if you catch my meaning.

Man 4

Seems I’m Aeneas on this one. From hard graft to half-baked to fully glazed and exhibited. So, that was, let’s say, 4F all up but 500F paid by Madame Pompadour for the finished artifact. First, I was sketched. Then, I was painted by Natoire. But here I am now, on the piece of Sevres! Venus, giving me alms, they say. But the only alms I got were those miserable 4 F.

Man 5

They can’t imagine what I’ve seen and heard. Here, the sound is silence. There, it’s the calamity of canons and rifles. The screams of the wounded. I’m scarred both in my head and on my body. But here, they only draw beauty. Art maximised, damage minimised. Here, it’s black chalk dust floating to the wooden floor. There, the black of night illuminated by fire, the dust powder expelled by the explosion of canons.

There, light was our curse, illuminating all that we hoped we’d never see. Here, light’s an ink wash heightened by white chalk that curves the contours of my hard earned muscles. Here, a stump’s for drawing, tight wrapped in its paper casing. But there, a stump’s a leg blown away. A man whose very core has been destroyed.

Man 6

I remember that day in the studio so well. I needed the money – but I got more than I deserved. I must admit that my body looks gorgeous. You can’t see my member but never mind. I’m so smooth and youthful unlike those specimens of coarse humanity you often see in this place. Soldiers, labourers and criminals – they are all so rough. I can’t say that I’m never attracted to them, but that’s not my world.

Carl van Loo! He’s something else. You’ll see me looking sideways at him in the drawing he did.

Oh my, what a day! I love you, Carl

Astrid Sutton

SAM_3503 SAM_3551 SAM_3541 SAM_3538 SAM_3535 SAM_3525 SAM_3521 SAM_3519 SAM_3510 SAM_3507 SAM_3505

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