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Song for Chloe

Chloe by Jules Lefebvre

Chloe

This is a song I have written for Chloe.
Well, I have written the words but I can’t write music so I guess it is just a poem!

She came to Australia long ago
The star at each and every show.
They gave her a place of honour for all to view
But the wowsers they made a hullabaloo.
Chloe’s a disgrace, standing in the nude,
Take her away, they said, she’s far too rude.
For a work of art ‘twas a dreadful snub
But she found a home at Henry’s pub.

Chorus
Long ago in Paris her name was Marie
But she’s our Chloe and always will be

The men they trooped from miles around
To drink with the queen of Melbourne town.
They brought their dreams and left their hearts
Then sailed away to war in distant parts,
Anzacs, Yanks, sailors, pilots and diggers all.
Then connies and truckies and fans of the football
And pollies and pensioners and workers from the farms
Deliriously, delightedly succumbed to her charms.

Chorus
Long ago in Paris her name was Marie
But she’s our Chloe and always will be

She’s our Chloe but in Paris her name was Marie
‘Twas there she mourned a love that was never to be.
Heartbroken and wretched she died, they say
When she drank the poison she made that day.
But she lives on still; our bar room queen
Untouchable, unattainable, smooth and serene,
Loved by all who come these days
To drink with her in the bar at Y and J’s.

Chorus
Long ago in Paris her name was Marie
But she’s our Chloe and always will be

Glossary:
pollies: politicians
truckies: truck drivers
wowsers: aggressively puritanical people
connies: tram conductors (phased out in Melbourne in 1996 which angered and saddened many Melbournians)
Yanks: a slang term for an American person sometimes used with affection and sometimes not. During WW2 the American servicemen were often regarded by their Australian counterparts with jealous anger because the Yanks, with their relatively high pay, had the resources to woo the local women.
Y & J’s: Young and Jackson’s hotel; a famous pub in Melbourne, Australia, at the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.
Chloé: an award winning life size nude painted by French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre in 1875.

JB’s Blog

Chloe
Chloe

Chloe was brought to life in Paris in 1875 by the artist Jules Lefebvre, one of the most respected and leading academic masters of the painted nude figure in the late 1800s. At Chloe’s debut at the Paris Salon Lefebvre won the Gold Medal of Honour, the greatest official award to be bestowed on a French artist and the first of three gold medals Chloe was to win. In 1879 she starred at the Sydney International Exhibition and in 1880 at the Melbourne International Exhibition Chloe won both the highest awards.

Chloe was purchased by Dr Thomas Fitzgerald of Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, for 850 guineas. In 1883 Dr Fitzgerald offered Chloe to the National Gallery of Victoria while he visited Ireland for three years.

However, while those who appreciated art hailed Chloe with the highest acclaim Melbourne society was not ready for a naked woman at the Gallery. Meetings were held, letters were written, the Sunday Observance League and the Presbyterian Assembly had to be heard. The Argus newspaper was so inundated with letters of both complaint and passion that they dedicated a column solely to the issue of ‘Chloe in the Gallery’. Chloe only lasted three weeks in the Gallery before being withdrawn from exhibition and shipped to Adelaide where she was more warmly received.

On his return to Melbourne  Dr Fitzgerald proudly displayed Chloe in his front salon but this caused more scandal because passers-by could see her. Heaven forbid! Fitzgerald was forced to move her, this time to the back of his house. She stayed with Dr Fitzgerald until his death in 1908 after which she was bought at Sir Thomas’ estate auction for £800 by Mr Henry Figsby Young, the ex-gold digger, art collector, Irishman and entrepreneur who owned Young and Jackson’s Hotel. She then graced the public bar of the Young and Jackson Hotel where she was much appreciated by the patrons.

During the World Wars diggers came to drink with Chloe before being shipped out. Letters were written to her from the trenches of Turkey, France, and Papua New Guinea, swearing their true love and promising to return.

During World War II a crewman aboard a German luxury liner was accused in the US of being a spy. As an alibi he recalled that at the time of the offence he was in Melbourne at a hotel opposite a railway station drinking with a nude in the public bar. The case was dismissed!

American GIs were so in love with her during World War II that they planned to abduct her. Luckily these plans were unsuccessful. One particular GI, who was returning to the US, was so besotted with Chloe that he threw a glass of beer at her exclaiming that ‘he would give her something to remember him by’.

Chloe is still at Young and Jackon’s hotel.She now has her own bar upstairs and she is loved and admired by all, men and women, who visit her. 

Marie, a young Parisian woman, modelled for Lefebvre’s Chloe when she was around the age of 19. Of Marie there are many tales, but the most probable is that told by Lefebvre’s contemporary and student, George Moore. Moore noted that she was a model who posed for several artists and, after throwing a party for her friends, spent her last money on poisonous matches, boiled these up, drank the concoction and died. Moore alludes that the reason for her suicide was love. It is believed that when Marie died she was about 21 years of age.

Information provided by Young and Jackson’s Hotel.

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