Mr. Buonarroti is coming to town! That’s a guy more familiarly known as Michelangelo. Renaissance dude, I think you’ve all heard of him 😉 Here in the Big Apple, the Met Museum is gearing up for what surely sounds like a spectacular exhibition. “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” will open on November 13th. Knowing my artist friends they will not only see it within the first week but will return for second and third viewings.

And now I’d like to share a vintage photo of an artist’s model being tortured, in the atelier of French sculptor Henri-Marius Petit, sometime during the 1930s. As you can see, she is holding the pose for the work ‘La Maternité’, without the breastfeeding baby of course. The leaning forward movement? That means eventual lower back pain. Her bent left leg and foot against the hard slab? That kills after an hour. This woman is in art modeling hell. And the men are all sitting around doing nothing while she does all the work! It must have been worth it though. The sculpture won the silver medal at the Salons des Artistes Français in 1934 and was purchased by the city of Metz, which renamed it ‘Monument to the French Mothers’.

This work – this arduous art modeling work – never changes, and I love it for that. The model in this photo is my ‘sister’. All the nude figures in art created from life are immortal images of my brethren. From Michelangelo’s men to Degas’ women, to all the men and women in academy studios and life classes throughout the world today and every day, we artist’s models keep carrying on …

8 thoughts on “Predecessors

  1. Dave says:

    Oh, yeah, I feel for her. Your post brought back a memory of the most painful pose an instructor ever put me in, a standing pose with one foot perched on the rung of a stepladder. Pure agony for 20 minutes because I was a new model and didn’t think I could tell the instructor that the pose was unreasonable. Man, that was bad.

    Thanks for finding and posting that great photo.

    • artmodel says:


      Those rungs are the worst! Whether on a stepladder or one of those art studio stools .. they just suck. Must have padding of some kind. I feel your pain through your description!

      Thanks for your comments.


  2. I wish I could work with a model like you in person . . . experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about what you do. It would be an honor and I would be thankful.

    • artmodel says:


      You’re very kind! Fortunately, artists like you appreciate the value of dedicated, professional art models. And we’re grateful for the acknowlegement!

      Thanks for your comments, friend …:-)


  3. Bill says:

    I never had a desire to draw/paint a model who was in pain. Granted that it is a physical activity — and I think there may be occasions when a model may be a little stiff the next day. But not real pain — there’s enough of that in the world already.

    • artmodel says:


      Pain is a feature of art modeling, there’s just no way around it. A person with a low tolerance for pain, or discomfort of any kind, should not attempt to model! It’s definitely not for most people by any means. But there are degrees to the pain and luckily not every job is a hardcore experience. That’s one of the reasons I love short pose sessions 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!


  4. Bill says:

    I must confess, though, that I have occasionally been guilty of making one or two puns at break time that have elicited expressions of pain from models. I suppose that mental cruelty must also be considered.

    • artmodel says:


      I wouldn’t consider your cute puns mental cruelty, no matter the circumstance! Models coming out of a tough long pose might just be momentarily crabby. We need a few minutes to shake out those pins and needles.


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