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The Washington times. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, February 16, 1919, NATIONAL EDITION, American Weekly, Image 25

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Tke Pretty Artists' Models Wko Knew
So Well Tkeir Millionaire Patron
and Jlis Luxurious Studio
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Never Guessed Tnat
Mr. JBreese, the Hero or
the Famous "Girl-m-tne-
Pie Dinner, Had Fallen
m Love
IT Is not easy to send a thrill of surprise
through New York's artist colony. The
Bohemian dwellers in the studios are a
very sophisticated lot
But Mr. James L. Breese has accom
plished the feat twice.
First, when he staged the fa
mous Girl in the Pie dinner at his
studio many years ago, and, again,
the other day, when he announced
that he was about to be married.
Mr. Breese is unusual in many
ways. Most artists who live fn the
merry studio buildings have to
work for a living. But Mr. Breese
is very wealthy and he lives in a
studio because he loves the life. He
is rather a patron than a daily
bread worker, and so the busy art
ists and the somewhat unconven
tional models look upon him a:,
friend, admirer, patron, rather than
a fellow wage-earner.
Mr. Breese Is sixty-four. All his
life he had been a familiar figure in
the studio world of New York
Every worth while artist he has
known, and all the best models. Al
ways he has been known as
"Jimmy" Breese. No one entered
into the Bohemian ways of the art
ist colony more freely than he. But
not one of them ever dreamed thai
Jimmy Breese was In love.
It was not in a studio that Cupid
did his work. It was on a sunny
day in June that Mrs. Ralph Isham,
a member of the Long Island Smart
Set, drove a half dozen house party
guests to Southampton for a look
at Mr. Bree'se's famous gardens. One of
the party was a lovely young girl of an old
Southern family. Miss Grace Lucille
Momand.
Mn.Breese personally led the party about
the grounds and watched the girl's brown
eyes glow softly at the beauty of the
scene.
"Wonderful hair," mused Mr. Breese, as
he contemplated his fair young visitor
closely with artistic appreciation. "The
only hair I have ever seen in three colors.
Looking at it in different lights it is brown,
it is golden, it is red."
Miss Momand's enthusiastic approval
of bis gardens, his stables, his horses
awoke a response in his heart and next
day Mr. Breese motored over to the girl's
country home at Southampton and met her
mother.
The romance progressed rapidly and the
other day Mr. Breese made application for
a marriage license and the surprise of the
art world was complete.
Mr. Breese, as has been said, is sixty
four years old. His fiancee is twenty-three.
But Mr. Breese is very young for his years
and Miss Momand is quite mature for her
youthful age, so the prospects of happiness
are not dimmed by what would seem to be
an important disparity in their ages, their
friends agree.
Mr. James Lawrence Breese is easily
the most Interesting figure in the upper
Bohemia of New York. Millionaire, scien
tist, sportsman, connoisseur of all the joys,
he combines inherited wealth and ability
In a remarkable degree. His vitality for
his years is astonishing.
He comes from an old New "York Colon
ial family, and owns, among other desir
able possessions, a great slice of down
town New York real estate. He was edu
cated at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Insti
tute, a noted scientific place of education,
and graduated there in 1875.
Mr. Brepse was too rich to follow any
calling for profit. After knocking about
in many places and enjoying strange ex
periences for a few years, he decided to
devote his talents to artistic photography.
He had an equal interest in science and
in the fine arts.
He built the most beautiful and the best
equipped studio, at No. 5 West Sixteenth
street, that New York had ever known up
to that time. It was called "The Carbon
Studio." Mr. Breese's personal apart
ments were as wonderful as the rest of the
establishment. The Oriental rugs and
draperies were especially rich, and some
very rare old armor gave distinction to
the place.
The society photographer un
derstood to perfection the art of
making a woman's face soft,
charming and attractive.
The most beautiful women
in the country thronged his
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Swanson, an Attractive Artists' Model,
While Penrhyn Stanlaws, the Well-
Known Artist, Sits Holding a Dog.
studio and almost fought for the privilege
of being photographed by him.
With his talents, his wealth, his numer
ous admirers and his many accomplish
ments, Mr. Breese was able to make his
studio the scene of many remarkable social
affairs, where art and pleasure were
gracefully mingled.
And it happened that the famous "Girl
in the Pie" dinner, an event that has
become memoraDle u New York's society,
was given at the Breese studio. This is
commonly associated with the memory of
Stanford White, that noted architect whose
career in upper high life Bohemia was
ended by Harry Thaw's pistol. White, one
of the most prominent guests, was
especially attentive to poor Susie Johnson,
whose appearance as the "pie girl" was
one act in her little tragedy.
Susie Johnson was a pretty, sweet
faced, innocent looking child of New York
tenements. Her home was on the top
floor of No. 104 Eighth avenue. Her
father, an honest mechanic, occasionally
drank "a drop too much" and at such
times made life hard for Susie and her
mother and the other children.
At twelve years of age, Susie went to
work in a braid factory.
She stayed there three years, when the
dispensary doctor informed her that she
would have to find other and lighter work,
or her days would be ended by consump
tion. At this moment a prominent New York
artist happened to be in need of a model.
He wanted a slight, fraii figure to pose for
a nymph in a forest in a state of nature,
of course, as nymphs always are. He in
serted this advertisement in a newspaper:
"Wanted a young girl model to pose
in the nude. Experience not necessary.
Thirty cents an hour."
Little Susie Johnson answered the ad
vertisement and was accepted, and so be
gan her life In the studios. She was quick
ly seen and appreciated by several of the
noted artists of the day.
A few weeks later she was engaged for
the famous "pie girl" stunt In the dinner
at Mr. Breese's studio. This was in the
Winter of 1895. The occasion of the din
ner was the tenth anniversary of the wed
ding of a man prominent in New York
society. His wife happened to be away in
Europe and his friends thought the event
could be most fittingly commemorated by
a stag dinner. Mr. Breese, whose wife also
had interests elsewhere, volunteered the
use of his studio, his professional talents
and other expert services.
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It Was Mr. Breese Who Undertook to Give a Dinner in His Studio
Which Should Surprise Even Such Sophisticated Art Patrons as Stan
ford White. As the Piece de Resistance of the Dinner Mr. Breese
conceived the Happy Idea of
Having an Enormous Pie Brought
in on the Shoulders of Four of the
Waiters. Out of the Pie Stepped
Miss Susie Johnson, Graceful
Young Artist's Model, Unencum
bered with Much If Any Drapery.
The banquet was of Lucullian luxury
The cost Is said to have been $3,600, oi
$110 a plate, a surprising sum In those
days of lower prices. Nothing but cham
pacne was drunk.
The guests included thirty-two of the
mon most prominent in New York's finan
cial, professional and fashionable life.
The studio was transformed into a bower
of roses, and here and there peeped forth
gay posters boldly remini
scent of Parisian scene.
Four banjo players and as
many jubilee singers helped
to enliven the least with
music.
The dinner was over. The
four and a half bottles of
champagne allotted to each
person had been consumed,
and a certain somnolence
was Betting in. Something
was needed to Jolt the re
vellers into a wide-awake
condition.
Suddenly the old-fashioned
lullaby "Four and Twenty.
Blackbirds" broke forth from
banjoists and Binger. Four
waiters came In bearing a
surprisingly monstrous ob
ject, something that looked
like an impossibly large pie.
They set it carefully in the
ssssssssssssssssss
PlwTo 6Y WHtTr 3TUOW.WV.
Lunch Time for Artists' Models in the Studio Build
ing. Mr. Breese Is Seated Between the Two Ladies.
Miss Grace Lucille Momand, to Whom Mr. Breese
Has Announced His Engagement.
middle of the table. The negro chorus
swelled louder "Four and Twenty Black
birds Baked In a Pie."
The guests, startled into curiosity, be
gan to poke their noses against the pie.
They detected a movement in it like a
chick's pecking against the egg. A quicker
movement and the crust burst at the top.
A flash of black gauze and delicate flesh,
showed within. A cloud of frightened yel
Copyrleht, 1919. by Star Company.
low canaries flew
out and perched on
picture frames and
even on the shoulders
of guests.
But what drew the
eyes of all the revel
lers was a slender,
girlish figure amid
the broken crust of
the pie. The figure
was covered with
spangled black gauze,
through which the girl's white limbs
gleamed like ivory. She rose from her
crouching posture and timidly stepped
forth to the table.
An architect lifted her to the floor. A
banker led her to a chair. An artist held
a glass of champagne to her lips. Susie
Johnson was the sreat success of the eve
ning. She transformed the distinguished
gentlemen present from a party of tired
Great Britain Rights Reserved.
diners Into a throng of gay revellers eager
to make her acquaintance.
Susie Johnson's life after the revel in
the studio was a rapid descent She dis
appeared from her home and for a year
circulated in the studios. Then the wife
of an artist, who had been touched by her
winning face, took pity on her, and she
spent two years asja governess In a quiet
Brooklyn home. Then she married a re
spectable young man, but he left her when
he heard of the pie dinner and its conse
quences. After that she was for a time a
chorus girl In a road show.
Finally she paid & visit to her former
home. Her father, in his anger at her
conduct, threatened to strike her. but de
sisted when he saw her pitiful expression.
Susie Johnson, in a statement about this
time, said:
"I was fifteen years old when I an
swered the advertisement and had been
earning $2.50 a week in the braid factory.
Thirty cents an hour for posing seemed a
fortune to me. My mother used to ac
company me at first and help me to dis
robe.
"After the pie dinner I left my home for
finer quarters. To any girl who Is poor I
should say, stay In the factory or kitchen.
Sht who onters thts studio leaves inno
cence behind."
A year after the "girl in the pie" dinner
another little affair at Mr. Breese's studio
excited Interest It was called a "costume
masque."
Some of the men wore bartender's cos
tume and stood behind a real bar, whwe
they served beer and champagne a d other
drinks. During the dancing one .oman's
filmy dress caught fire from a match
thrown on the floor, and she might have
been burnt to death had not her partner
thoughtfully drenched her with cham
pagne. Mr. Breese was a great racing auto
mobilist in the early days of the sport.
In 1904, while racing with W. K. Vander
bile In his car at Havana, he was severely
injured and nearly killed.
His country home. "The Orchards," at
Southampton. L. I., is one of the finest
examples of modern Colonial architecture
In America. It was built and furnished
by the late Stanford White. The furniture
and contents are worth many hundreds of
thousands of dollars. The great music
room is furnished with authentic sixteenth
century Italian furniture. Magnificent
Flemish Gothic tapestry adorns some of
the apartments. The vast garage attached
to the house includes 3 complete machine
shop, where Mr. Breese can have every
repair made.
Mr. Breese's present New York home
is a three-story studio in the magnificent
Hotel des Artistes, at No. 15 West Sixty
seventh street. The living room Is sixty
by thirty feet Its furniture includes some
enormous pieces of old English silver.
Venetian columns of red, blue and gold
lend Indescribable richness to the walls.
Mr. Breese finds comfort on a divan cov
ered with old Spanish brocade. One of
his many fancies is to have the fire screen
decorated with live smllax, fresh everv
day, all the year round.
Mr. Breese was first married about
thirty years ago. His wife, a daughter of
General Robert B. Potter and a niece of
Bishop Potter, died two years ago.
In his younger days Mr. Breese wore a
beard and prided himself on his resem
blance to King Henry VIII. Now he Is
clean-shaved and with face more wrinkled,
but not less Interesting.
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