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!

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Selected Works

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

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Picturing a World

Rocks at L'Estaque

May 22, 2014

Tags: Cézanne, Renoir, Provence

This painting was at the back of my mind for when I imagined a vineyard terraced below a limestone escarpment on the grounds of Dr. Aubanel’s sanatorium. Edward helps tend grapevines there in February 1880. It tickled me to discover in preparing this post that the picture was painted two years later in February 1882 (more…)

Les Collettes

April 21, 2014

Tags: Renoir, Provence

Working from the photographs, paintings, and—best of all for my purposes—elevation plans, plant lists, and a bird’s-eye layout in Derek Fell’s book Renoir’s Garden, I used Renoir’s estate, Les Collettes, near Cagnes to invent Dr. Aubanel’s (more…)

Duval restaurant

March 10, 2014

Tags: Effie, Jeanette, Renoir, cafés and restaurants

To make a world real, it seems to me you have to know what people ate and where and when. When the Duval restaurants turned up early in my research I knew I could use them; and Renoir's painting of a Duval waitress became a touchstone image for me. Not only the quietly respectable young woman but the figured wallpaper and curtains suggested a feminine air that would be reassuring to Jeanette and Effie.

Pierre Louis Duval, a butcher, began selling servings of a meat cooked in broth to workers ca. 1855. From this venture grew a chain of restaurants. They were clean, well-run places where women on a budget could eat safely. (more…)

Ambassadeurs in the Champs-Élysées

March 25, 2013

Tags: Champs-Élysées, Edward, Franco-Prussian War, Paris landmark, Renoir

After the Renicks' dinner party, Edward escorts Jeanette and Effie home then joins the rest of his family at a café-chansant, Les Ambassadeurs. In Renoir's Champs-Élysées, it is the building on the right. It was surrounded by its own gardens where gaslights on single posts and on tiers among the trees were part of the magical atmosphere. Acts were performed on an elaborate outdoor stage with the additional trees of the park deepening the leafy background. (more…)