The Stillman-Lack Foundation. Dedicated to promoting the art of Ary Stillman
  AboutArtworkHistoryGalleries and MuseumsScholarshipsNewsSearchmenu tab end




Video Clips

American Art

The Artist's Wife

  History/Biography of Ary Stillman  

P U B L I C A T I O N S  >  R E M I N I S C E N C E S

bullet Preface
bullet Foreword
bullet Grandfather     Dictated by Ary
bullet The Village     Dictated by Ary
bullet Supplement to the Village
bullet Vilna     Dictated by Ary
bullet Supplemet to Vilna
bullet Coming to the United States     Dictated by Ary
bullet Back of the Store     Dictated by Ary
bullet Omaha     Dictated by Ary
bullet Ary in New York - 1919
bullet Ary in Paris
bullet Ary Comes Back to the United States
bullet Ary's Marriage
bullet Summer Cottage in Harmon
bullet The Studio on Fifty-Ninth Street
bullet We Return to Paris
bullet Cuernavaca-Houston
bullet Ary and Music
bullet Ary and the English Language
bullet Ary Stillman - Thoughts on Painting

Supplement To Vilna

Ary often spoke to me of Vilna, and the following will supplement that which he dictated to me:

He had his evening meal with the family with whom he stayed, but the rest of his food had to come out of the 70 rubles, which the schoolmaster at Slutzk had presented to him. He kept the money under his shirt, in a little bag, which hung by a string around his neck. Each day he would take out a kopek (penny) and go to the bakery to buy some bread. There were trays of fancy little cakes in the bakery and he would gaze at them longingly, but did not dare to spend extra kopeks. He guarded the coins in the little bag as if his life depended on them — and in reality it did.

After Ary had been in Vilna awhile, a teacher who was a friend of the schoolmaster in Slutzk found some work for him — he was engaged to give drawing lessons to the daughter of the city's wealthiest and most influential banker. The banker's home was very elegant and there were numerous servants — butler, footman, etc. in attendance. When Ary rang the bell and a footman opened the door and gazed down haughtily at the poorly dressed boy, Ary almost fled. He forced himself to go back a few more times, but in spite of his great need for the money he couldn't undergo the ordeal of the footman and butler, and he made some excuse to put an end to the lessons. (This was in 1906. Strangely enough, in 1960, at a party in Cuernavaca, Mexico, Ary met an elderly woman who turned out to be the banker's daughter who had taken drawing lessons from him so long before, in Vilna.)

This was the period when there was the beginning of revolutionary stirrings in Russia, and one of the students at the Academy was a very militant young fellow. "Come!" he would command the other boys. "Come with me!" Ary, who was interested only in his painting, didn't know where he was being summoned, but the older boy was insistent. So one night Ary followed him, and found himself in the midst of a large gathering. Someone was speaking, but suddenly shots rang out and the men and boys started running in all directions. Ary ran blinding on in the dark night, and tumbled down in a muddy ditch full of refuse. He picked himself up, filthy from head to toe, and spent hours trying to wash himself and his clothes. This was the only meeting he attended!

Back to Top or Back to Publications

© 2008 The Stillman-Lack Foundation, All text and images on this site may not be published, broadcast, or distributed in any form without the prior written permission of The Stillman-Lack Foundation.