The narrator, an illustrator and aspiring painter, asks an old couple, the socalled Kings to be his models. They accept because they lost most of their money and they need to work. They are the real thing in the sense that they perfectly represent the aristocratic type, but they are not very flexible with the painter. He will rely much more on two lowerclass characters, who are more capable then the Kings: Orontes, an Italian, and Miss Churm, a lowerclass British woman.
The illustrator has to get rid of the Kings, especially after his friend criticizes the work in which the kings are represented. Hawley says that the couple affects the art of the narrator, maybe forever
Keywords: The Real Thing, Henry James, Faligi