Paris, October 12, 1873
A 21 year-old Julian Alden Weir, writing to his mother about his recent arrival to art school in Paris:
…In Gérôme’s studio the old students act towards the nouveaux, as they call them, as the cadets to the plebes. The last nouveau has to get bread, milk, paper or carry in wood or anything the old students want. In consequence of this I came very near having two or three fights. They are the meanest, most cowardly set of men I have ever come across. Twice my portfolio was taken so I could not work until I found the man who had it and upon one to translate into French what I wanted to express. They will steal anything they can lay their hands on, there is no honor or anything else among the French students. They called upon the new students to sing, and although it was much against the grain, we had to go through it and we did it with the best face possible by singing “John Brown.” I am fortunately not the last of the nouveaux, so I get off of running for small errands. The one who is last, is a gentleman from Chicago, about twenty-five years old, so it tries him very sorely…
My rooms…are in a quiet place and are furnished very nicely, for which I give eight dollars a month and one dollar for attendance. Living, also, is cheap. A Sunday dinner cost me but about thirty cents in American money, but there are many little things which will make the first two or three months the heaviest, for an allowance must be made for misinterpretation, bien venus, clothing, etc., which, when I get fairly started, will not count… At present I am going to keep drawing from the antique and life. I have been looking for a letter from home the past week, but hope my anticipations will be realized this week… I find it hard to get used to candles after having gas. When I get settled I will get a lamp. My candle is going out, interrupted my finishing touch!