Illustration for "The Model's Story" by Rebecca Solomon (1832-1886), captioned, "At last her eye rested on the figure of Leontes: she looked at it long and earnestly" (following 540). The story, written by "C.L.E.," tells of a male model who poses for Leontes in a painting of a scene from A Winter's Tale. The artist, seen here in his loose painter's jacket, is showing the completed work to his benefactress, a middle-aged woman of means, thought to be a widow. Mrs. Wyllford, the other figure in the illustration, duly admires it — but then, looking at it more intently, starts to swoon away. She sees in the figure of Leontes the exact likeness of the husband who had not died at all, but had deserted her after ruining himself by gambling. The identity of the model is confirmed, Mrs Wyllford and her husband are reconciled, and the artist himself marries their daughter.... so the story ends happily, if rather improbably, for all concerned.
Solomon has chosen the moment of recognition for its dramatic impact, but, typically, brings out the artist's kindly solicitude. She makes the role of his painting clear, too, without confusing matters by showing the canvas itself. As a member of a thoroughly artistic family, she would have been interested in the artist's account of his own background, and the discussion of PreRaphaelitism early in the story. No doubt she would also have enjoyed the idea that a work of art could touch the heart, restore one relationship, and further another. There is one more aspect to the happy ending: the work itself is not only accepted at the Royal Academy (as a number of Solomon's were), but hung well there!
Image scan, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee.[You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned it and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Clayton, Ellen C. English Female Artists. 2 vols. Vol. 2. London: Tinsley Bros., 1876. (Google Books, Free Ebook.)
E, C. L. "The Model's Story." London Society. Vol. 6 (1864): 533-40. Google Books. Free Ebook.
Created 4 October 2021