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.

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

Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr

November 17, 2014

Tags: Bouguereau, New York landmark

A painting of Nymphs and Satyrs by William Adolphe Bouguereau lies in one of the oddball overlaps between my research for ANONYMITY and Where the Light Falls. In the published novel, Bouguereau is Jeanette’s teacher at the Académie Julian, and I saw his painting often when I visited the galleries while working in the library at The Clark. What you see here, however, (more…)

Salon jury

June 9, 2014

Tags: Bouguereau, Carolus-Duran, Gervex, Salon, exhibition

In 1878–1880, the period of Where the Light Falls, submissions to the annual Salon were judged by an elected jury of artists. Anyone whose work had been accepted for previous Salons could vote, and the jurors were generally the most distinguished (and most conservative) artists of their day. Serving was an honor, but (more…)

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…)

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.