When her mother was working as a sales-clerk at Wanamaker’s department store following the boardinghouse debacle, Evelyn encountered an artist who asked her to pose for him. She posed for hours for around $1. This was still considerably more than her mother was making, in part because, at the time, being an artist’s model was pretty scandalous stuff (check out this portrait of Evelyn by James Carroll Beckwith) and she was only 14.
Still, Evelyn was determined. She said, “when I saw I could earn more money posing as an artist’s model than I could at Wanamaker’s, I gave my mother no peace until she permitted me to pose for a livelihood.” Evelyn’s mother vowed to watch over her closely and claimed “I never allowed Evelyn to pose in the all together [nude]“. Again, see above.
Evelyn’s mother continually proved herself to be pretty inept. While you hear a lot about constantly hovering chaperones at the turn of the century, you hear less about parents who completely left their daughters to do as they liked. Maybe because the results were so disastrous that novelists at the time were reluctant to write about them.
Fortunately, we’re past that “not writing about them” phase.
When her mother moved to New York, having heard it offered her greater opportunities for work (she planned to find employment as a seamstress), Evelyn made use of the names offered to her by Philadelphia artists she’d posed for. She soon became successful in a way her mother couldn’t have dreamed of.