Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2010





Publication Title

Archives of American Art Journal


E. M. Forster surprised two young painters at work in their Greenwich Village studio one April morning in 1947, bounding up four flights of the dilapidated brownstone like a man much younger than his sixty-eight years. The landing opened into a railroad apartment whose outer rooms were fashioned into workspace. Paul Cadmus's orderly studio faced north, with a view of scraggly trees and the brick face of a tenement. Jared French's room had "a medieval alchemist's look of disorder: large anatomy books, an Houdon écorché with muscles painted on, bottles of powdered pigments, dirty work clothes" piled hugger-mugger. The scent of rotten eggs hung in the air. Happily for him, Forster's hosts had no time to tidy their cluttered workspace or to "make suitable arrangements for entertaining the Great Writer." The three men settled down amiable. In a sea of dust Forster perched on a daybed that threatened to collapse. The British novelist and the American artists thirty years his junior spread out an impromptu picnic under the skylight of the central room, talking and drinking the afternoon away. Though they had been corresponding for a decade, it was their first meeting. It was also Forster's first visit to New York.


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© 2010 Smithsonian Institution

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