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.

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

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Ellen Day Hale

December 1, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Carolus-Duran, Hale, women artists

Ellen Day Hale's 1910 picture of a reclining woman with a guitar (taken here from a post at It’s About Time) can help me with the atmosphere of ANONYMITY in a way that photographs cannot. There’s something fresh and vivid and relaxed in it that reminds me how human my characters must be.

I always perk up when I see the name Ellen Day Hale. The proud, confrontational gaze in her stunning self-portrait from ca. 1885 was one of the first I met when I began investigating American women art students of Jeanette’s period. Like the guitar player, though in a different vein, it made me realize that the women I wanted to write about were highly individual.

The daughter of an illustrious American clan of Brahmins, artists, and thinkers (Hales, Beechers, and Perkinses ), Ellen Day Hale studied art first in Boston, then at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and in Paris at the Académie Julian and in the atelier of Carolus-Duran. She never married but from 1883 on was close to a friend, traveling companion, and fellow artist, Gabrielle DeVeaux Clements.

For a sketchbook of Hale’s from the 1880’s, click here.

For a lovely pastel of Charleston, S. C., and a brief essay about her traveling, click here.

For an interesting painting of a boy reading in a boat, click here