Katherine Keenum

A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

A small sample of the images that inspired me appears below. Click on these or any images in the posts to see enlargements. In the text, click on colored words to activate links.

Selected Works

An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.


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Picturing a World

Lunch at the Académie Julian

May 31, 2018

Tags: Académie Julian, Carlson-Bredberg, Scandinavian artists, women artists

How I am looking forward to the upcoming exhibit, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 at the Clark Art Institute! I am fond of saying that writing historical fiction forces a novelist to ask different questions from those of historians, even cultural historians. For instance, where did a woman (more…)

Botticelli, Three Graces

May 29, 2018

Just for the fun of it, the Botticelli fresco seen in the previous two posts!

Now consider this: A fresco of female mythological figures is shown in two paintings that also include a woman copyist. The first is by a man and shows the copyist off to one side; the second is by a (more…)

Azambre vs. Goeneutte

May 26, 2018

Tags: Louvre, copyist, frames

Website tip: As a follow-up to yesterday’s post Étienne Azambre, check out Gale Murray's review of the Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 exhibition in the on-line journal Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Along with many other images, it contains Goeneutte’s 1892 painting of Desboutin and his male friends in front of the same fresco at the Louvre that (more…)

Étienne Azambre

May 25, 2018

Tags: Académie Julian, Louvre, copyist, frames, women artists

At a lecture in advance of the Clark Art Institute’s upcoming show, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 (June 9–Spetember 3, 2018) I learned about this painting by Étienne Azambre (1859–1933). Azambre was an almost exact contemporary of the real Jeanette and studied at the Académie Julian from 1879 to 1882 in the studio of Adolphe William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury, where I place my fictional Jeanette. Wish I had known about her in time! (more…)

Monet by Carolus-Duran

May 20, 2018

Tags: Monet, Carolus-Duran, sketches

Website tip: I've just run across this drawing of Claude Monet by Carolus-Duran, which is up for sale. They were friends, and it's fun to see that they posed for each other informally. I suspect both would be astonished (and flattered?) at the asking price of $26,000!

Sororis Club

May 9, 2018

Tags: cafés and restaurants, suffrage

Blog post tip: In Where the Light Falls, I invented a private supper club for my women artists. With my eye turned now toward New York City and woman’s suffrage, it is fascinating to read about the feminist Sorosis Club’s first lunch at public restaurant, Delmonico’s.

For a digitization of an 1893 article about the club in Cosmopolitan Magazine, click here.

Marie Cazin’s quarried stone

May 7, 2018

Tags: Impressionism, women artists

Blog post tip: Stone Yard in a post on Marie Cazin at Beside the Easel brought touch and texture to mind: this is an easier sense to put into words than smell—though wouldn’t it be good to capture the smell as well as the feel of rough-cut stone in the sun? (more…)

Putto checks Galileo

May 3, 2018

My intention has been to write a series of posts on the physical senses—sight, sound, taste, feel, smell—how we experience them, how they combine, and how writers can make better use of them in evoking the living world. But you know the story: it's been a busy week. Then this little guy (more…)