Katherine Keenum


A blog about the paintings, photographs, and prints that help me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress. My main current project is a novel tentatively entitled ANONYMITY. Its heroine works in publishing, belongs to a clandestine suffragist group, and has a married lover. Read on!

Click on images to see enlargements. In the text, click on words in color to activate links.

Selected Works

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

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Picturing a World

Florence Fuller

August 29, 2016

Tags: Académie Julian, women artists, Scandinavian artists

Terri Windling’s Myth & Moor is a great source of inspiration for writers, readers, and lovers of images related to the mythopoeia. Her August 26th post on Children, reading, and Tough Magic is trove of pictures of children reading and quotations on the value of fantasy stories. It also brought my attention another of Jeanette’s younger contemporaries who studied at the Académie Julian—Florence Fuller (1867–1946). Born in South Africa, Fuller is classed as an Australian artist; for although she studied in Paris and spent time in England and India, she grew up in Australia and her most productive years were spent there. Her work is collected primarily in Australian museums. In 1905, she became a Theosophist, a reminder to me that the occult was a part of the world around my heroines Jeanette and Mattie (though not, I think, of much interest to either of them).

Leyendecker at the Académie Julian

January 10, 2016

Tags: Académie Julian, illustration, schools

Blog tip: Yesterday’s Gurney Journey post lets you read what J. C. Leyendecker, a Golden Age illustrator, had to say about the Académie Julian. For an interesting article on Leyendecker as a gay artist who defined images of the American male, click here.

Winter in New York

January 26, 2015

Tags: Cornoyer, transportation, Académie Julian

Given the recent snow and ice here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking about why books set in winter appeal. Even though the action of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is directed toward delivering Narnia from the grip of the White Witch, it’s the snow you remember, the (more…)

Alice Barber Stephens

December 23, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Christmas, illustration, women artists

This Christmas shopping street scene is the sort that might have met my new heroine Mattie when she arrived in New York City at the turn of the 20th C. It was painted by Alice Barber Stephens, (more…)

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 (more…)

Women, art, and marriage

June 23, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Bracquemond, Carolus-Duran, Cassatt, Gonzalés, Morisot, women artists

When Amy Richardson and Louise Steadman confront Jeanette with the need to choose between art and love, they remind her of Marie Bracquemond and Berthe Morisot, whose opportunities to show were sadly curtailed by marriage. They also point out that Mary Cassatt knew better than to get married. For a well illustrated post on (more…)

Sonja

June 12, 2014

Tags: Sonja, Académie Julian, Bilinska-Bohdanowicz, women artists

Given Sonja’s friendship with sculptors, disregard of clothes, and brawn, is it any wonder that I exclaimed “Sonja!” when I ran across this image? I love imagining her sitting on the floor while she’s building her big picture frame for a Salon submission—although she would be in trousers.

The pose fits (more…)

Amélie Helga Lundhal

May 14, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, women artists, Scandinavian artists

Blog tip: For a Cyrillic-alphabet blog post with several images of work by the Finnish artist Amélie Helga Lundhal (1850–1914), who studied at the Académie Julian and painted in Brittany, click here.

Rodolphe Julian

March 24, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Beaury-Sorel, Rodolphe Julian, schools, sketches

Mention of Rodolphe Julian (1839–1907) in last week’s post on the clothed model made me realize that I should post on Julian himself—and, lo, another kneeling figure.

Born (and buried) in the village of Lapalud, Haut Vaucluse, in Provence, he was sent at an early age to Marseille to work in a bookstore. In the store he read (more…)

Clothed model

March 17, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Rodolphe Julian, costumes, sketches

When Jeanette first goes to the Académie Julian, Rodolphe Julian explains that he offers three classes to women in which the models are nude, draped, or fully clothed. The last was intended primarily for amateurs whose embarrassment at naked flesh could be accommodated. Nevertheless, the folds of clothing also required careful study as (more…)

Portraits database

February 28, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, Curran

Charles Courtney Curran, The Artist's Wife (1890)
Web tip: Thanks to Polly Shulman for steering me to Fashioning History, a chronological database of portraits from prehistory to the 1930’s. To illustrate the sort of thing that can be found there, I chose this portrait by Charles Courtney Curran, because he was Jeanette’s contemporary and studied at the Académie Julian. Also because Polly and I like hats.

Class critique

February 3, 2014

Tags: Académie Julian, illustration, studio, schools, women artists, Bouguereau

I recently came across this picture by Albert Guillaume. William Adolphe Bouguereau criticizing student work in Jeanette’s class at the Académie Julian? Not quite, but mighty close! It appears in the January 14, 1905, issue of the French weekly, L’Illustration, accompanying the magazine’s review of a play, La Massière by Jules Lemaître. (more…)

Robbie Dolson

May 9, 2013

Tags: Académie Julian, Breslau, Robbie

Because Louise Breslau was a student at the Académie Julian, I saw her portrait of Henry Davison early in my research. Something about the rakishly nonchalant pose of a dandy passed, transmuted, into Robbie Dolson.

Bouguereau

March 4, 2013

Tags: Académie Julian, Bouguereau, schools, women artists

Jeanette Palmer is fictional; but one of the masters at the Académie Julian, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, fostered the career of a real American woman, Elizabeth Jane Gardner, whom eventually he married as his second wife. Click here for his portrait of her, which was also painted in 1879.

Is it my imagination, or does his self-portrait reveal a sadness and sensitivity unexpected in a painter of marzipan nudes and sentimental children? In any case, besides using him to dramatize the teaching methods employed at the time, I wanted the novel to portray the esteem with which he was held by his students. The touch of red on his collar is the much-coveted badge indicating membership in the Legion of Honor.

Countess Marie Bashkirtseff

February 25, 2013

Tags: Bashkirtseff, Académie Julian, caricature, schools, women artists

Artist unknown, Marie Bashkirtseff (1878)
Anyone researching women students at the Académie Julian comes up against Countess Marie Bashkirtseff from the get-go. Besides a self-portrait, she painted a picture, In the Studio of a women's class and kept a voluminous diary in which she recorded her drama-queen feelings, studio gossip, and lots of concrete particulars about what went on in the classes. Talented, vain about her looks, ambitious, and far from tactful, she attracted devoted followers but also provoked many of her classmates, some of whom rallied behind another star at the school, Louise Breslau. I suppose it was a detractor who produced this cartoon! (more…)

Costumes

February 21, 2013

Tags: Académie Julian, costumes, schools

Rodolphe Julian brags to Jeanette on the size of his school's collection of costumes. As I wrote, I was aware of American illustrators, e.g., Abbey, and imagined a future for Jeanette in that field.

For a contemporary illustrator's explanation of why actual costumes are important and tips on how to make or obtain them, click here.

No-nonsense woman artist

February 18, 2013

Tags: women artists, Académie Julian, schools, Amy, Sonja, Bilinska-Bohdanowicz

It may be unromantic on Valentine's Day, but what I love about this self-portrait is Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz's straightforward gaze, no-nonsense hair, and that apron. Admittedly, the dress is not really what you'd wear in the studio, not without a painter's smock to cover it fully. Still, there is no doubt that she wants you to think of her as a working artist. In different measures, I transferred her attitude to Amy and Sonja.

She was a student at the Académie Julian. For more information about her, click here.

Académie Julian

February 14, 2013

Tags: Académie Julian, studio, schools, women artists, photograph

This photo gives an idea of how many women crowded into Rodolphe Julian's highly successful art classes, and the drawings mounted on the wall shows how good the best of them were. Notice how they are posed so that not everyone is staring straight ahead at the canera. That was a 19th C convention for group photographs. It is artificial, but it does enliven the composition—just a little prod toward the historical novelist's goal of imagining them as separate individuals, each with her own story.

For Jefferson David Chalfant's informative painting of one of the men's studios, click here.

Boulevard Montmartre

February 11, 2013

Tags: Académie Julian, Effie, Jeanette, Paris landmark, street views

In New York City, Jeanette has been told about an art school called the Académie Julian. Now in Paris, in Chapter Eight, as soon as she and Effie have rented an apartment, they set out to find it. The school, which admitted women students (unlike the national École des Beaux-Arts) was located in the Passage des Panaromas, a shopping arcade that ran—and still runs—north from the rue Saint-Marc to the boulevard Montmartre. Jeanette and Effie walk its length and are momentarily baffled when they find themselves here, on the boulevard beside the Theatre des Variétés. I have stood at this very spot; the passage would be to the right if it were in the oil sketch, (more…)