Nina Hamnett

03/11/2011 § Leave a comment

I had a wonderful collection of stockings at that time and wore flat-heeled shoes with straps on them like children do. They made my feet look very large. They cost five francs and were worn by concierges. I had red stockings and yellow stockings and some that looked like a chess board. Modigliani would run after me up the Boulevard Raspail after the Rotonde had closed. He could always see me because of my loud stockings. One night he nearly caught me so I climbed up a lamp-post and waited at the top till he had gone.

We worked during the daytime. I painted Still Life and worked at the Academy from the nude in the afternoon. We did a great deal of work. We had a tabby cat. One day we were all very broke, myself, the Pole and the Arab. For three days we could not find a penny, we did not mind much about ourselves, but we were so sorry for the cat, who had to starve also. We had a lot of Modigliani’s books and in despair the Pole took one on philosophy and read it to us. As he turned over the pages he suddenly came across a HUNDRED FRANC NOTE. Modigliani’s wife used to hide money away from him and this was one of his notes. We were so delighted that we rushed into the nearest workmen’s restaurant, taking the cat with us, and ate and drank to Modigliani’s health the whole evening.

I went daily to the Luxembourg Gardens where I did some really good work, I think. There is a statue there that I always admired. It is of a lady standing up.with her feet crossed, in a very short skirt indeed, and a strange little hat like an inverted soup plate. I did a drawing of her. Some years later I went to the Bal Julien dressed as her. I wore a pink silk accordion pleated garment, that really was a pair of knickers. They had no legs, but only a ribbon to divide them. I borrowed them from a rich American woman and cut the ribbon so that it looked exactly like the skirt of the statue. They had garlands of blue silk forget-me-nots embroidered on them. I wore a short blue, tight-fitting jacket that I had bought at the “Flea market” at Caulincourt and a very small blue hat that looked like a comedian’s bowler. It was very flat and looked very like the one worn by the statue. I had a great success at the ball, especially when I explained whom I represented.

All quotations from Laughing Torso by Nina Hamnett.

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