for the Day 8th
Audrey Munson is born in New York City. In 1906 she was spotted on the
street by a portrait photographer who asked to make some pictures of her.
Over the next ten years she became the most popular artists model
in the United States.
face and (usually naked) form became an everyday sight all over the country
as she modelled for hundreds of civic art projects, as well as advertisements,
magazine covers and even films. (She appeared nude in a film called Inspiration
in 1915, said to be the first of cinemas leading ladies to do so.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York reckoned it had thirty works
in its collection representing her.
height of her fame came with the Panama Pacific International Exposition
in San Francisco in 1915, where 70 per cent of the sculptures gracing
the pavilions, as well as the female figures in thousands of square feet
of murals, were Audrey Munson. She was nicknamed The Exposition
sculpture on the right is a Star Maiden, created by A. Sterling
Calder, the father of Alexander Calder (see Lay for the Day, 22nd
July). Ninety-five of these maidens surrounded the Court of the Universe
at the Exposition.
Gannis, the president of the National Christian League for the Promotion
of Purity, opined: This young woman ought to be ashamed of herself.
Maybe she has perfection, as the sculptors call it, of features and figure.
give her license to parade her charms to the general public.
Munson was confined to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 39, where
she remained for 65 years. She died in 1996 at the age of 105, unnoticed
by the American public, many of whom still look at her younger self every
The preponderance of
images of the great goddess,
he thought as the Raleigh shuddered between his legs
over potholes, surely shows the matriarchal nature
of earlier cultures, from the protuberant
neolithic Venus to the many-dugged Diana
of Ephesus as on his unceremonious
and thoughtful way, and down upon his summer-freckled crown,
exuberantly tilted on abundant limbs,
the plenty of Helena, Eva and Sophie,
of Cindy and Elle and of Claudia shone.
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