Altogether now for the
16.1446-8: She could without difficulty, he said, have posed for the ensemble,
not to dwell on certain opulent curves of the.
of 1895, when they were on the rocks in Holles Street, Molly Bloom remembers:
woman is beauty of course thats admitted when he said I could pose for a
picture naked to some rich fellow in Holles street (
To readers of Ulysses it is (and probably was) not obvious at a first glance that these two passages from different episodes suggest the same scenario: Molly posing in the nude..
OED’s first quotation for “in the
altogether”, defined as “the state of nakedness, the nude”, reveals a likely inspiration
for Joyce’s expression “pose for the ensemble”, George du Maurier’s novel Trilby:
posing for Durien the sculptor, on the next floor. I pose to him for the
altogether." "The altogether?" asked Little Billee. "Yes — l'ensemble, you
know — heads, hands, and feet — everything — especially feet."
George du Maurier,
(1894), p. 25-6
Potter’s play (in a version revised by Beerbohm Tree, who had bought the
English rights) figures in two of Joyce’s works.1 So perhaps it’s not a
coincidence either that Bloom has his idea for additional income through Molly in
1895 when Trilby was an immense
success on the stage with Beerbohm Tree in the role of Svengali in Dublin’s
Gaiety Theatre. Mrs Bloom has an unpleasant memory of the event, but also
punningly suggests the nudity of the heroine:
fellow in the pit at the Gaiety for Beerbohm Tree in Trilby the last time Ill
ever go there to be squashed like that for any Trilby or her barebum (
Stephen Hero, Joyce’s first attempt
at a portrait of the artist in the looking-glass, the play is mentioned twice:
down Jones's Road they saw a gaudy advertisement in strong colours for a
melodramatic play. Wells asked Stephen had he read 'Trilby'.
you? Famous book, you know; style would suit you, I think. Of course it's a bit
. . . blue.
well, you know . . . Paris, you know . . . artists.
is that the kind of book it is?
— Nothing very wrong in it that I could see.
Still some people think it's a bit immoral.
, p. 68)
second time there is clear hint that the budding writer is already connected in
his friend’s view with something slightly risqué.
suppose you'll be a parish priest one of these days.
hope so. You must come and see me when I am.
you're a great writer yourself -- as the author of a second 'Trilby' or
something of that sort . . . (
, p. 68)
expression “to pose for the ensemble” was obviously adapted from the French “poser
l’ensemble” (earlier used to mean “posing for a full portrait”):
rapin ouvre alors la porte de la sale des modèlles et la mère de famille se
trouve face à face avec une demoiselle en train de poser l’ensemble devant sept
ou huit artistes pour une
(Paris: 1861), 17 March, p. 2
1878 we find it in English in Lippincott’s
Magazine of Popular Literature and Science:
"Oui, madame. Ma femme is
Lucreza, whom you
. She has made
the nymphs and goddesses for a
pictures, but now she is so much fat that the messieurs will have her only for
the head, although she still poses for the
in the ateliers des dames."
Here the best Christ in Paris grinned satanically as a polyglot howl
went up from among the students.
"That's his tit for the tat of the 'Cheshire cat,'" laughed
Madame Lafarge, a French-American Corinne with an all-French moustache.
"We won't have Lucreza again if she is too fat to pose for the nude
except in a
snapped the elder Swede.
(1878), July: “An Atelier des Dames”
It crops up
in a widely syndicated piece in the New
York Times of 21 February 1886 (p. 4), describing the glamorous life of “Italian
Models in Paris":
The lives they lead
and the ends they attain… This is particularly the case for specialists, and
particularly for female models – those who pose for the "ensemble" and those
who only pose for the head or the costume. The first of these comprises only
such girls as, having, one might say. Grown up in the atmosphere of the studio,
attach no important to the exhibition of their nudity. Those who have left Italy
after the age of 12 never consent to do so… It is a grave error to suppose that
all these young women, even those who pose for the "ensemble", are of depraved
Later examples include the
following from Robert Chambers’s Common Law
ch. 12, p. 348):
said in a sweet, surprised way: "Do you know what I am?" "Yes ;
you sit for artists." "I am a professional model," said Valerie.
"I don't believe you understood that, did you?" "Yes, I
did," said the countess. "You pose for the ensemble."
Around the time when Joyce lived
in Paris artists used the expression to advertise for models:
Artiste dem. Jolie fille de 16 à
18 ans pour poser l’ensemble. – Foretay, 92, rue Amelot, 2 à 4 h.
(Paris), 28 April, p. 6
Understanding the expression, which is rather opaque to the modern reader and not yet covered by the OED, sharpens our perception of Bloom’s fumbling to keep up appearances and being suggestively audacious at the same time when advertising Molly’s charms in that way to a
male acquaintance fifteen years younger than her.
years later Finnegans Wake echoes a
slightly modified expression: “by their toots ensembled” (225.2):
And one man came to borrow money
to be repaid as soon as his young daughter had grown old enough to enter the
profession which her mother had abandoned —
posing tout ensemble
club of artists.
Clergyman’s Study of 'The Stranded'", in
(1902), September, p. 2512
the time he was writing Ulysses, Joyce
could also have seen Tournier’s film Trilby
of 1915 with Clara Kimball Young in the title role.