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Portrait of a Figure Study with Grace Darling
The figure in this study is speculated to be Grace Darling. Grace Darling was a silent film actress best known for her leading role in "Beatrice Fairfax" (1916) as Beatrice herself, the editor of a love advice column. The film's significance comes with it being inspired by "Ask Beatrice Fairfax" the first newspaper advice column of its kind introduced in 1898 by Mary Miller, and as it was of the first film series consisting of 15 independent episodes that aired weekly. This shot captures Darling in the opening of stage curtains standing against a burlap-sheathed wall. She holds a conventional artist model pose, exhibiting the back side of her figure while bending her arm to conceal her face as if shielding it from the light, or to hide her identity. A scarf of sheer material wraps around her figure and obscures the forms of her backside ever so slightly, although concentrated highlights outline the outside curvature of her hip and thigh. These effects were likely applied by Hixon in the development process through a series of chemical photo manipulations. Next to Darling is a faux floral arrangement in vase. By looking through the curtains at the figure, Hixon creates a shot that evokes an implicit sense of voyeurism in the viewer, as if one has happened upon her in private distress.