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

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Picturing a World

John Sloan as Trilby

July 31, 2014

Tags: Ashcan School, Sloan, Trilby

What can I say? You can’t help loving it when two enthusiasms overlap so wackily. The novel Trilby by George Du Maurier was a bestseller in the 1890’s. Known to all art students in Paris—and evidently, Philadelphia!—it is a wonderful source for (more…)

Studio party

April 10, 2014

Tags: Trilby, fencing, illustration, studio

Trilby, a novel about art students in Paris by author and illustrator George du Maurier, was one of my richest sources for details and ambiance. This illustration contributed to (more…)

Studio omelettes

September 2, 2013

Tags: Amy, Jeanette, Sonja, Trilby, illustration, studio

As I said in an earlier post, my editor teased me about how often my characters eat. In a scene that got dropped from “Winter’s Cold,” Jeanette demonstrates breaking two eggs at once (a trick my college roommate, the writer Elaine Fowler Palencia, taught me) and (more…)

Trilby

January 28, 2013

Tags: Trilby, copyist, Louvre, illustration

It came as a surprise to me how many professional women copyists there were in France in the 1870's. For background, I read several novels with artists as character. The most important for my purposes was the 1894 bestseller Trilby, written and illustrated by George du Maurier. It is best known now as the origin of the character Svengali, but for art historians its depiction of student life is invaluable. The three men in the background are the Laird, Taffy, and Little Billee, the artists for whom the title character, Trilby, models in the opening chapters. The copyist here is only decoration, but one named Noémie Nioche figures actively in The American by Henry James (1877).

For a contrast to the workaday clothes shown here, check out another copyist painted by a male artist here.