Viewing page 64 of 123


I went to live in London at the end of a very interesting period. Whistler, Oscar Wilde and Beardclay were dead, but an after-glow brought into relief such figures as Conder, Sickert, Max Beerbohm and others.

Sargent lived in the Tite Street in a house opposite to mine, but as his work did not interest me I never sought to know him.

Charles Conder was a tragic figure. He had worked for many years in Paris and there had acquired the habit of drinking absinth; so that the natural ramblings of his mind become even more incoherent and obscure. I recall his long pale face, lanky hair and low voice over murmuring disconnected mysteries belonging to a Balzao world of his own. When I first knew him he had just married and his wife was supposed to be curing him of his absinth habits. But it soon came to known that the lady herself seemed to be a victim to some awful propensity. 

Whenever I went to visit him at his studio Mrs. Conder would appear at the door with some part of her face bandaged: either the eye, the nose or the forehead. It was most perplexing as there could be no question of the gentle Conder being at fault. But soon the mystery was solved: it was said that this lady had epilepsy. When seized with an attack she would fall hurting herself against the sharp edges of mantel piece or furniture.

The effect of absinth on Conder could be but mild indeed compared with the harm these fits were working on the artist's sensitive brain. It was most harrowing and I discontinued my visits. One day however a very agitated Conder came to my studio and amid such confusion of words I understood that he was seeking refuge with me from his wife.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact