The Anatomy Lesson (Evan S. Connell)

North Fayer Hall stood on the final and lowest hill of the
university, a little askew from the other buildings as if it
were ashamed of its shabbiness and had turned partly
away. Its window sills were pocked by cigarette burns and
the doors of its green tin lockers had been pried open for
so many years that few of them would lock any more; the
creaking floors were streaked and spattered with drops of
paint, dust lay upon the skylights, and because the ventilating
system could not carry off so many fumes it seemed
forever drenched in turpentine. Mercifully the little building
was hidden each afternoon by the shadows of its huge,
ivy-jacketed companions.
Just inside the front door was the office and studio of
Professor A. B. Gidney, head of the art department, who
taught ceramics, bookbinding, fashion design, and lettering.
Professor Gidney’s door was always open, even when
he was teaching class somewhere else in the building, and
in his studio were teacups and cookies and a hot plate
which the students were free to use whenever they pleased.
There was also a record player and a soft maple cabinet
containing albums of operettas and waltzes; every afternoon
punctually at five the music started.
Behind his office were the student ateliers, each with
twenty or thirty short-legged chairs placed in a semicircle
around the model’s platform, and at the extreme rear of
the building next to the fire escape, and reached by a dim
corridor which multiplied every footstep, stood the studio
of the other instructor.
This final studio was shaped like an up-ended coffin. In
the rafters which surrounded its skylight spiders were forever
weaving, and because the window had not been
opened in years the air was as stale as that of an attic, always
cold in December and always close in July. The
window as a matter of fact could not even be seen because
of the magazines and newspapers heaped atop a huge, ironbound
trunk with a gibbous lid. In one corner of the room
a board rack held rows of somber oil paintings, each nearly
the same: marshes in the center of which one hooded figure
was standing with head bowed. The first few strokes of
another such painting rested on an easel in the center of
the room, and around this easel a space had been cleared,
but the material that was banked against the walls and
rose all the way to the ceiling threatened to engulf it at
any moment. There were gilt picture frames, some as large
as a door; there were crocks and pails half filled with coagulated
liquids, cartons, milk bottles, splintered crates covered
with layers of dust and tobacco crumbs, rolls of linen
canvas with rectangles ripped out, jugs of varnish and
turpentine lined up on an army cot with a broken leg,
brushes, rags, tubes, apple cores, wrappers of chocolate
bars, Brazil nuts, toothpicks, and pictures everywhere-
glued on the walls or on boxes or, it seemed, on whatever
was closest: pictures of madonnas, airplanes, zebras, rapiers,
gargoyles, schooners, adobe pueblos, and a host of
others. There seemed to be no plan or preference; a solarized
print of a turkey feather had been stuck to the trunk
so that it half obliterated a sepia print of the Bosporus.
The glue pot itself could be traced by its smell to a cobwebbed
corner where, because it had cracked and was
leaking, it sat on a piece of wrapping paper. On this paper
was an inscription, printed at one time in red Conté but
now almost invisible. Beneath the glue and ashes the letters
read:

I am here,
I have traversed the Tomb,
I behold thee,
Thou who art strong!

Here and there on the floor lay bits of what looked like
chalk but which were the remains of a little plaster cast of
Michelangelo’s Bound Slave. The fragments suggested that
the statuette had not fallen but had been thrown to the
floor. Also scattered about were phonograph records; most
of them looked as if someone had bitten them. Several
rested on the collar of a shaggy overcoat which in turn
was draped over a stepladder. The phonograph itself lay
on its side, the crank jutting up like the skeleton of a bird’s
wing and the splintered megaphone protruding from beneath
one comer of a mattress like some great ear. In the
middle of the night when the university campus was totally
deserted there would occasionally come from the rear
of North Fayer Hall the muffled sound of plain-song or
Gregorian chant, to which was sometimes added for a few
bars a resonant bass voice in absolute harmony, that of
the instructor whose name was printed in gold on the studio
door, a door that was always locked: ANDREV ANDRAUKOV,
DRAWING & PAINTING.
Nothing interested Andraukov except paint. Each thing
he saw or heard or touched, whether it writhed like a sensuous
woman or lay cold as an empty jug, did not live for
him until he, by his own hand, had given it life. Wherever
he happened to be, in a class or outside, he paced back and
forth like a tiger, and when with hands laced into a knot
at the tail of his sack-like tweed coat and his huge, bony
head bowed as if in prayer he stalked the corridors of
North Fayer Hall, or the streets of Davenport below the
university, he created a silence. Always he walked with his
head bowed, and so far had his slanting eyes retreated into
their sockets that few people had met his gaze. His teeth
were as yellow and brown as his leathery skin and it seemed
as if flesh were too much of a luxury for his bones to endure.
It was his habit to start each drawing class in the still
life room, a damp, chill studio with shelf upon shelf of
plaster and bronze casts. He always took his students there
the first morning; they stood about uncertainly, their
young faces rosy from the September air, clean pencils and
papers and new drawing boards clutched in their arms.
“Here,” he would say, unrolling a long, cold finger.
“Rome. Egypt. Greece. Renaissance. You will copy.”
The students looked at him, a haggard old man whose
head by daylight could be no more than a skull in a
leather bag, and one by one they settled themselves before
a statue. Around and around behind them went Andrev
Andraukov, taking from awkward fingers the pencils or
sticks of charcoal, drawing with incredible delicacy tiny
explanatory sketches in a corner of the paper. When he
leaned down to inspect the drawings of the girls they stiffened
and held their breath fearing he might somehow contaminate
them. To them he might have been the Genghis
Khan. Slowly and with a kind of infinite patience he wandered
from one to another, shaking his head, trying to
explain, never taking from his mouth the stub of a brown
cigarette which protruded from his drooping and streaked
mustache like an unfortunate tooth. The moment he heard
the chimes which ended each class he halted his explanation
even though in the middle of a sentence, and without
a single word or another look he went out. The sound of
his footsteps echoing in the corridor ended with what
seemed like the closing of a hundred distant doors.
When he saw that his students were losing interest in
the plasters and so could gain nothing more, he took them
into the life atelier. On the walls of this room were tacked
reproductions of masterful paintings. Helter-skelter stood
drawing boards and student paintings, and on a platform
rested an electric heater and a stool. Here, in this studio,
he commenced his instruction of the living human body:
on the blackboard he drew diagrams and explained for
several days, as best he could through the net of language,
how it was that men and women functioned. Then he got
his students a model. Each morning one would arrive
carrying a little satchel in which there was a robe or a
cloak to wear during the rest periods and sometimes an
apple or cigarettes or even a book.
Generally the models did as others had done for three
thousand years before them, so there faced the class each
morning a noble though somewhat shopworn pose. With
earnest faces the students copied, bending down close to
their paper the better to draw each eyelash and mole, their
fingers clutching the charcoal as if they were engraving
poetry on the head of a pin, and one after another they discovered
that if charcoal was rubbed it would shine. In
two days every drawing gleamed like the top of a candy
box. All the while their instructor, a cigarette fixed in his
smelly mustache, paced the back of the room or walked up
and down the corridor.
Although the students did not know it, he was waiting.
Year after year as students flowed by him this old man
watched and waited; he waited for the one who might be
able to understand what it meant to be an artist, one student,
born with the instinct of compassion, who could
learn, who would renounce temporal life for the sake of
billions yet unborn, just one who cared less for himself
than for others. But there were good foods to eat, dear
friends to chat with, and pretty girls to be seduced, so many
fascinating things to be done and discussed, thus Andrev
Andraukov could only watch and wait.
It was as if a little play never ended, wherein, to his
eternal question, Is it not important?, the young people
answered, Yes! Yes! There must be one who cares! And he
asked, Will it be you, then? But they replied, Ah, no! Not
me! Someone else. You see, I have so awfully many things
to do. . . .

One November morning the members of Andraukov’s
class found lettered on the blackboard in his square hand,
TODAY: ANATOMY. As a result they did not open their
lockers but sat in a semicircle facing the model stand and
waited. Andraukov hurried in several minutes late; beside
him walked a strange model who went behind the Japanese
screen in the corner and began to undress.
Indicating a six-foot plaster man, stripped of skin and
flesh, Andraukov asked two of the students to lift it onto
the model stand. Next he pointed to the wooden cabinet
where a skeleton dangled by a bolt through its skull, and
said, “Mr. Bones.” Two more students carried the rattling
skeleton onto the stand. There was a half-smoked Cigarette
clamped in the jaws. Andraukov patiently removed It, as
he had removed hundreds of others.
“Now,” he said, “Miss Novak, please.”
His model walked out from behind the screen and
stepped onto the platform where she stood between the
skeleton and the cut-away. She was a huge peasant girl
with tubular limbs and coarse red hair that hung down
her back like a rug. Between her great breasts was the
tattoo of a ship. Her Slavic eyes were expressionless. .
Andraukov took up a position behind the semicircle of
students. From one of his coat pockets-which was more
of a pouch-he brought up a crooked brown cigarette.
After he had held two matches under it the cigarette began
to sputter, flame, and finally emit blasts of terra-cotta
smoke. Now Andraukov was ready to begin the lecture;
he walked a few steps in each direction and then blew from
his nostrils such a cloud that he nearly hid himself.
“Well,” he began, “here is girl. Young woman. Who
does not agree?” He walked out of the smoke, looked
around, and then walked back into it. “Good. We progress.
On street I look at woman first the head, then down,
so we will do here. Who can tell what is the shape of human
head? Mr. Sprinkle will tell us.”
Sprinkle stood up and fingered his lower lip while he
thought. Finally he answered that the human head was
shaped like a ball.
“So? Miss Vitale will tell us.”
Alice Vitale said it looked like an egg.
“Miss Novak, please to turn around. We will see back
of head.”
The model gathered her hair and lifted it until the class
could see her neck and the base of the skull.
“Mr. Bondon, now, please.”
Michael Bondon had begun to grow sideburns, and because
his father was very rich he was not afraid to cross his
legs and shrug.
Andraukov watched him for several seconds and then
without expression continued, “Ball. Egg. “Who is correct?”
He explained that from the front the human head does
resemble an egg and from the rear a ball or a melon, but,
he cautioned, the artist must not look at what he sees so
much as what he cannot see, and holding up one hand
he demonstrated that the students, seeing his palm with
their eyes, must also see his knuckles with their minds. He
said that the artist must see around corners and through
walls, even as he must see behind smiles, behind looks of
pain.
“For to what use you shall employ knowledge?” he asked,
walking to the window and gazing out at the slopes covered
with wet snow. “For what you shall be artist? To
draw such as all the world can see? Pussycat? Nice bouquet
of lily? Little boy in sailor suit? Then bring to this class a
camera. No! Not to this class. Go elsewhere.” He looked
out the window again at the soggy clouds which were
settling on the university buildings, and then with his cigarette
pinched between thumb and forefinger as if it were
alive and about to jump, he walked slowly across the room
where he stopped with his back to the students. “You people,
you wish to be artist. Why? That a stranger on the
street will call you by name? You would be famous? You
would have money? Or is it you have looked at your schedule
and said, ‘Ah, this is hard! I need now something easy.
Yes, I will take drawing.’ ”
He turned around, looked at the faces of the men, his
gaze resting on each for a number of seconds. “You have
thought, ‘I will take drawing because in studio will be
pretty girl without dress!’ So? This is reason? Or perhaps
in this room-in this room perhaps now there sits young
man who in this world discovers injustice. He would be
conscience of the world. Mr. Dillon will now stand up.
Mr. Dillon, you would draw picture which is to say, ‘Behold!
Injustice!’? You would do that?”
“No, sir,” Dillon murmured.
“You will not be conscience of the world?”
“No, sir.”
“If not you,” Andraukov asked, gazing at the boy, “then
who?” He carefully licked the under side of his mustache
and pushed the cigarette deeper into his mouth. His
knuckles were yellow and hard as stone. From the town of
Davenport the sound of automobile horns came faintly up
to the university hills; but for these noises and the creak
of the instructor’s shoes the life studio was quiet.
Andraukov walked to the stand where he flattened his
thumb against the neck of the cut-away. “Sterno-mastoid.
Favorite muscle. Favorite muscle of art student.’ He asked
his model to look at the skeleton and as she turned her
head the sterno-mastoid stretched like a rope between ear
and collarbone.
“Beatrice d’Este how many know this painting, painting
by Leonardo da Vinci? Three? Three hands? Disgrace!
Now I tell you: In Beatrice is no sterno-mastoid. And why?
Leonardo da Vinci is painting young woman, is not painting
tackle of football team.” He looked down on the faces
turned attentively toward him and did not think they
understood, but he did not know how to phrase it any
more clearly. He decided to tell a joke. With a piece of
green chalk he sketched on the blackboard a grotesque
profile. He peered at it and shouted, “Young man after
my daughter. Look like this! No, no-” He had confused
the grammar. “Would have daughter, such young man like
this.” The class did not know what he was doing.
Andraukov felt he should explain his joke. He pulled
on his mustache for a while and tried again but there was
still only a confused tittering. He decided to continue with
the lecture. Having become a trifle warm he unbuttoned
his vest and hooked both thumbs in the pockets.
“Well, below head is neck. Below neck is breast. You
are afraid of this word. Why? This is God’s word. Why
everybody-all the young girls say ‘bust’? Bust is for firecracker.
Not for woman. No! Everybody–class entire together-
now say correct word.”
He listened to the class uneasily repeat the word and he
nodded with satisfaction. “So! Not to be ‘bust’ again. I do
not like that word. For drawing; art student draw like
balloon. This is wrong. Not balloon, but is bag to rest on
rib cage. Is part of body like ear is part of head, like peanut
butter of sandwich, not to be alone. Who does not understand?
Who has question?” No hands were raised.
Andraukov asked his model to face him with her heels
together, legs straight, and hands at her sides. He stared.
He was pleased with the way she stood.
“Class. Class, consider Miss Novak, fine model, head
high. Is good to be proud of body. Yes. This is true!” He
struck himself with a stony fist. “No scent on earth is so
putrid as shame. Good students, do not fear to be proud.”
He paused to meditate. “Well, on rib who can tell status
of breast? Nobody? There is nobody to speak? There is
fear?” He looked around. “Ah! Brave student. Mr. Zahn
will speak. Mr. Zahn stands to, tell instructor of breast.
Good. Speak.” With head bowed he prepared to listen, but
almost immediately held up one hand. “No, no! I would
know direction. I would know angle. Yes, angle. On breast
does nipple look ahead like nose on face?”
Logan Zahn was a thin, heavily bearded young man who
sat in corners whenever possible. He was older than the
other students and wore glasses so thick that his eyes
seemed to bulge. There were rumors that he was writing
a book about something.
“No,” he answered in a surprisingly high voice.
“The nipple, it will look down, perhaps?”
“Then where?”
“Up.”
“And?”
“Out.”
“Goodl”
Zahn and the model looked at each other, both expressionless.
“You will tell instructor amount of angle. The left
breast now, to where it is looking?”
“At the print of Cézanne’s apples on the wall.”
“And the right?”
Logan Zahn was not afraid. He pointed out the window.
“At the Episcopal church.”
Andraukov looked at the model and then toward the
church. “That is correct.” He tugged from his vest a heavy
watch and studied it, pursing his lips. Why, he asked, tucking
away the watch, why was it that men wished to touch
women? To allow time for his question to penetrate he
folded his arms across his chest and began wandering about
the studio. He picked a bit of chalk off the floor, he opened
a window an inch, he stroked a dusty bronze on a shelf,
he went back to close the window, and when at last he felt
that every student should have been able to consider his
question and speak of it properly he invited answers. Nobody
volunteered.
“I will tell you,” he said. “No, I will not tell you. Mr.
Van Antwerp will stand.”
Van Antwerp, who was the university’s wrestling champion,
scratched his scalp and grinned. Andraukov’s face
did not move.
Van Antwerp grinned some more. “They’re fat,” he said.
“Man is not fat? Yes, but different. Well, on woman
where it is most thick?”
Van Antwerp began to stand on his other foot. He
blushed and sniggered. The class was silent. For a few moments
Andraukov stood with eyes closed and head cocked
to one side as if listening to something beyond the range
of other ears, but abruptly he strode across the room to
Van Antwerp’s green tin locker and wrenched it open.
“These material, it belong to you? Take it now. You
will not return! Who else now-who else-” But not being
able to phrase what he wished to say he stood facing a shelf
while Van Antwerp collected his things and left, slamming
the door. Andraukov looked over his shoulder at the students.
He turned all the way around and the color began
to come back into his face.
“We speak of shape. Shape, yes. Is caused by many
things. There is fat, placed by God, to protect child of
womb. There is pelvic structure-so broad!” His bony
hands gripped an imaginary pelvis. “There is short leg,
spinal curve so deep. There is, too, the stance of woman.
All these things, these things are not of man. You will not
draw man and on him put balloons, lipstick, hair, and so
to say, ‘Here is woman!’ No!”
He continued that woman was like the turtle, born to
lie in the sun and sometimes to be turned over. Woman,
he told them, was passive. She was not to smoke tobacco,
to swear, to talk to man, to dance with man, to love like
a drunken sailor; she was to brush her hair and wait. As he
thought about the matter Andrev Andraukov stalked back
and forth cutting the layers of smoke left by his cigarette.
“Trouser! Crop hair! Drink beer! For ten thousand years
woman is correct: gentle, quiet, fat. Now?” He paused to
stare at the floor, then lifting his head, said, “Well, today
is good model. Consider limbs: not little to break in pieces
but big and round like statue of Egyptian goddess, like
statue in concrete like Girl Holding Fruit of Clodion. This
piece, how many know? This Clodion?” He looked over
the class and seeing only two hands pinched the bridge of
his nose in a sudden, curious gesture and closed his eyes.
He instructed them all to go to the library that afternoon
and find a picture of the statue. Around the studio he wandered
like a starved and shabby friar, the cuffs of his fraying
trousers dusting the paint-stained boards and the poor
coat dangling from the knobs of his shoulders. The laces
of his shoes had been broken and knotted many times, the
heels worn round. He stopped in a corner beside a cast of
St. George by Donatello and passed his fingertips across the
face as if he were making love to it. He licked the drooping
corner hairs• of his mustache. He swung his Mongol
head toward the class.
“You do not know Clodion! You do not know Signorelli,
Perugino, Hokusai, Holbein! You do not even know Da
Vinci, not even Cranach or Dürer! How, then, how I can
teach you? Osmosis? You will look inside my head? Each
day you sit before the model to draw. I watch. There is
ugly model, I see on your face nothing. Not pity, not revolt,
not wonder. Nothing. There is beautiful model, like
today. I see nothing. Not greed, not sadness, not even fever.
Students, have you love? Have you hate? Or these things
are words to you? As the artist feels so does he draw. I
look at you, I do not need to look at the drawing.”
There was no sound but the footsteps of the old instructor.
Dust motes whirled about him as he walked through
a bar of winter sunlight.
“Good students;. why you have come to me? You do not
know what is crucifixion, the requiem, transfiguration.
You do• not even know the simple ecstasy. These things I
cannot teach. No. I teach the hand. No man can teach the
heart.” Holding up his own hand for them all to see he
went on, “This is not the home of the artist. Raphael does
not live here:” Tapping himself on the chest he said, “The
home of Raphael is here.”
The little sunlight faded so that all the sky was mushroom
gray, somehow auguring death and the winter. A
wind rose, rattling the windows. The studio’s one radiator
began to knock and send up jets of steam. Andraukov
snapped on the lights. He walked toward the motionless
Slavic woman, his eyes going up and down her body as he
approached.
“Who can find for instructor, sartorius?”
A girl went to the plaster cast and spiraled one finger
down its thigh.
“Now on the model.”
She touched the crest of the hip and inside the knee.
“What Miss Grodsky does not say is, ilium to tibia. But
is all right because she tries. She will learn.”
He asked if anybody knew why the muscle was named
sartorius, but nobody knew; he told them it came from the
word sartor, which meant tailor, and that this muscle must
be used in order to sit cross-legged as years ago the tailors
used to sit. He asked for the patella and his student laid
one finger on the model’s kneecap but did not know what
the word meant. It meant a little pan, he said, as he drew
its outline on the model’s skin with a stick of charcoal. He
asked next for the scapula; she hesitated and then touched
the collarbone. He shook his head, saying, “Not clavicle,
not the key.” She guessed at the ankle and he shook his
head again, placing her finger behind the model’s shoulder.
There with charcoal he outlined the scapula, saying
as he finished it, “So! And Miss Grodsky can sit down. Mr.
Zahn will find for instructor, pectoralis major.”
Logan Zahn got up again and pointed.
Andraukov said, “Miss Novak does not bite.” He
watched as Zahn placed a fingertip outside and then inside
her breast. “Correct. Easy question.” With charcoal he
drew the pectoralis on her skin. “Now for instructor, gluteus
medius.” He watched Zahn touch the side of her hip.
“Gastrocnemius.”
He patted the calf of her leg.
“Masseter.”
He touched her jaw.
Andraukov looked at him intently. “You are medical
student?”
“Find for me-find pectoralis minor.”
With his hands Zahn indicated that it lay deeper in
the body.
“So. Where you have learn what you know?”
“Library,” Zahn answered in his squeaky voice.
“I have told you to study anatomy in library?”
“No.”
“But you have gone?”
“Yes.”
Andraukov’s nostrils dilated and he blew a cloud of
smoke dark enough to have come from a ship; he stood
in the middle of it, nearly hidden. When he emerged he
began to speak of the differences between men and women;
placing both hands on the model’s forehead he stretched
the skin above her drugged eyes until the class saw how
smooth the skull appeared, and for comparison he pointed
to the ridge of bone like that of an ape’s on the bleached
skeleton. He pointed to the angle of the model’s jawbone
and next to the more acute angle on the skeleton. Below
the pit of her neck he drew an outline of the sternum and
compared it to the skeleton’s longer, straighter bone. He
said that the woman’s neck seemed longer because the
clavicle was shorter, thus narrowing the shoulders, that the
elbow looked higher because the female humerus was
short, that the reason one could not judge the height of
seated women was because they possessed great variations
in the length of the leg, that female buttocks were of
eater diameter than male because of protective fat and
because the sacrum assumes a greater angle. He turned the
skeleton about on its gallows and placed his model in the
same position. He drew the sacrum on her skin, and the
vertebrae rising above it. She arched her back so that he
could lay his hand on the sloping shelf. Why, he asked,
why was it thus? And he answered himself, saying that the
spine of man was straighter. Then for what reason did the
spine of woman curve? For what reason did the pelvis tilt?
Who would explain to him?
But again he answered himself. “Cushion!” A cushion
for the foetus. From a cupboard he brought a length of
straight wire and stabbed it at the floor; the wire twanged
and vibrated from the shock, but after he had bent it into
an S the wire bounced. He flung it into a corner and
walked back and forth rubbing his hands as he lectured.
The belly protrudes because there resides the viscera of
the human body. Fashion magazines do not know about
viscera, they print pictures of young girls who cannot eat
because they have no stomach, who cannot walk because
they have no maximus, who seem to stand on broken
ankles. Although paper was flat the students must draw
as if it were round; they must draw not in two dimensions
but in three. A good artist could draw in three dimensions,
a master could draw in four.
He stopped to consider the attentive looks on their faces
and asked who understood, but did not wait for an answer.
He spoke of how Rembrandt painted a young woman looking
out an open window and said to them that she did not
live three hundred years ago, no, she was more than one
young woman, she was all, from the first who had lived on
earth to the one yet unborn who would be the final. He
told them that some afternoon they would glance up by
chance and see her; then they would know the meaning of
Time-what it could destroy, what it could not. But for
today, he said, his voice subsiding, three dimensions would
be enough. From his baggy vest he extracted a silver thimble.
He held it between two fingers.
“For belly, three dimensions. It is not, like paper, flat.
So navel is not black dot. It is deep. It is the eye of God.
You are going to see.” Bending down he pushed the thimble
steadily into the model’s navel.
Every little noise in the studio ceased. There was no
movement. It seemed an evil spell had been thrown by the
thimble which retreated and advanced toward the students
in brief, glittering arcs.
Andraukov licked his yellow mustache. “Good students
you will forget again?”
The class was still paralyzed. Waves of shock swept
back and forth across the room; with the elongated senses
of the mystic Andraukov caught them.
“Good students,” he said simply. “Listen. Now I speak.
You. have come to me not to play. You have come to learn.
I will teach. You will learn. Good students, each time in
history that people have shame, each time in history that
people hide from what they are, then in that age there is
no meaning to life. There is imitation. Nothing more.
There is nothing from which the little generation can
learn. There is no weapon for the son to take from the
hands of his father to conquer the forces of darkness and so
to bring greatness to the people of earth.”
Andrev Andraukov put the thimble back in his vest
pocket. The thin sales of his pointed, paint-spattered shoes
flapped on the boards as he walked to the cast of St. George
and stood for a time gazing absently beyond it.
Suddenly he asked, “Will you like to hear a story?” and
immediately began telling it.
Eleven years ago he had taught another drawing class
much like their own where the students drew stiff, smudgy
pictures of Greek warriors and made spaghetti of Michelangelo’s
muscles. But they, too, had worked hard, it had
been a good class, and so one day he brought them into the
life studio and gave them a woman. He left them alone that
first morning and when he returned at noon they lined
their drawing boards up against the wall and waited for
his criticism.
In regard to the first drawing he observed that the head
looked as big as a watermelon and he explained that the
human head was nearly the same length as the foot; immediately
the class members discovered they had drawn
the feet too small. The hand, he told them, demonstrating,
would more than cover the face; the class laughed at the
tiny hands on all the drawings. How could they have made
such mistakes! Well, they would learn.
At the second piece of work he stood facing them with
hands at his sides and in a few moments the class discovered
what he was doing: they had not drawn the arms long
enough. He explained the various uses of the human arm,
suggesting that if they would learn to speak truly of function
then their drawings would be correct. He looked at
their faces and saw the struggle to comprehend. It was a
good class.
The next drawing was a tiny thing but when he bent
down to peer at it he discovered the streaks which were
meant to be veins in the back of the model’s hand. He held
out his own hand with its great veins of red and green
twine.
“These are important?” he asked them, and as he lifted
his hands high in the air the class watched the veins recede.
So one by one he criticized those first works. When he
came to the final drawing he found the figure had been covered
by a bathing suit. He thought it was a joke. He turned
to the class with a puzzled smile, but seeing their faces he
knew it was not a joke.
“Who has drawn this?” he asked. No hand was raised.
He returned to the first drawing and asked its owner to
leave the studio; he stopped at the second drawing and
asked its owner to leave. One by one the students walked
out and finally he was left with two drawings but only one
student.
“Miss Hugasian,” he said, “you draw this morning two
pictures?”
She pointed to the first.
“Well, then, this final drawing?”
Her eyes were brilliant with fright but he was patient
and at last she said it had been done by Patricia Bettencourt.
“Miss Bettencourt? She is here today?” Then he left the
studio and walked up and down the corridor opening each
door until finally in the still-life room, seated between the
casts of Night and Day with a handkerchief held over her
face he saw Patricia Bettencourt. Looking down on her he
wondered.
She did not move.
“You are ill?” he asked, bringing a bench close to her
and sitting down. “For me today you make very nice
drawing, but the bathing suit-”
Andraukov paused in telling the story of Patricia Bettencourt,
but he did not stop pacing so the eyes of the
students swung steadily back and forth. Once again the
only sounds in the atelier were the creak of his shoes and
the knocking radiator. From time to time the electric
heater on the model’s platform hummed faintly. Rain
trickled down the window panes and, finding cracks in the
ancient putty, seeped and dripped to the floor where puddles
were spreading. Before continuing with the story he
walked to the door and opened it.
“Miss Bettencourt speaks. ‘I did not know model was to
be-‘ This sentence she cannot finish because she weeps. I
finish for her. I ask, ‘Nude?’ She does not answer. Shadow
like shroud drops on cast of Michelangelo.”
Andraukov tasted his mustache and nodded to himself.
He walked to the window where he stood with his back to
the class; they could see only the thin hair on his skull and
his yellow fingers tied into a knot at the tail of his coat.
“Good pupils, the artist is not ‘nice: No, that cannot be.
He shall hear at times the voice of God, at times the shriek
of each dwarf in the heart and in the soul, and shall obey
those voices. But the voice of his fellow man? No. That
cannot be. I think he who would create prepares his cross.
Yes! It is so. But at his feet no Magdalen. Who, then, shall
accuse: ‘You are evil!’? ‘You are sublime!’? There is no
one to speak these words. Miss Bettencourt is in this room?
Go now. I do not wish to see your face.”
The door to the corridor stood open. Andraukov remained
at the window with his back to the students.
“Then I will teach you. I teach of the human body and
of the human soul. Now you are young, as once even I
was. Even as yours were my nostrils large. Now you shall
learn what is the scent of life, and with fingers to touch,
with ears to listen. Each fruit you shall taste, of honey and
grape, and one day persimmon. I, too, have kissed the hot
mouth of life, have shattered the night with cries, have
won through such magic millions of years. You will listen
now! God is just. He gives you birth. He gives you death.
He bids you to look, to learn, and so to live.”
The chimes of the university chapel had begun to toll.
Wrapping his fingers once again into a knot at the tail of
his coat Andrev Andraukov walked out the door. The
anatomy lesson was over.

Discussion Questions
1) Andraukov is dismayed at his students’ lack of emotional connection to their drawings, “Students, have you love? Have you hate? Or these things are words to you?”. When should physicians also be emotionally invested in their work? What would this look like in the clinical setting?
2) What do you think of Andraukov’s teaching methods?

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