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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

I    COME    OF    AGE

London School of Art and the Slade were rivals and
we despised the students there. There were dances
at the Botanical Gardens. Marquees were put in
the gardens and everyone went in fancy dress.
We wore very few clothes but the Slade wore
Aubrey Beardsley costumes and were covered up to
their necks. Our school had the reputation for
being immoral whereas we were very innocent and
respectable. So much so that one day a girl was
discovered kissing a young man behind a door and
she was practically cut by the whole school. I now
began to feel that having finished with Art Schools
I must leave the student stage and become an
artist. This I realized was a difficult thing to do as
many students at the Art School—and they were of
all ages—seemed to have remained students all
their lives. I painted a life-size portrait of myself
in the looking-glass. The colour was very dull but
it was very well drawn. I painted a pale-faced and
half-starved looking woman in black, holding a
yellow tulip. She was one of Growley's poetesses
and he called her the " Dead Soul "; it was a very
good description.
One day when I was going home in the tube I
sat opposite a girL She had a most wonderful
face, like the portrait of the girl in the National
Gallery by Ghirlandaio; she was rather fatter and I
decided that at all costs I must paint her portrait.
I followed her out at Hammersmith and touched
her on the arm. I said, " Do let me do a painting
of you.35 She looked rather frightened, but I
pressed my name and address into her hand. She
35