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

Copying

March 26, 2016

Tags: copyist

Website tip:Artists have always studied other artists’ work by copying it. I found this lovely 1595 drawing by Federico Zuccaro of his brother Taddeo Zuccaro sketching frescoes by Raphael via the always interesting Lines and Colors.

Writers, what written equivalent can we come up? An author in the voice of Virginia Woolf’s Judith Shakespeare tells a story about William poaching from Christopher Marlowe? A screenwriter’s pitch for the story of how his successful show runner sister dreamed up a series based on Nancy Drew?

This not an April Fool …

April 1, 2014

Tags: Louvre, caricature, copyist, illustration, women artists

This is not an April Fool’s joke, but a genuine double-page spread. Anyone care to speculate on the sex of author and illustrator?

Copies and what came after

March 31, 2014

Tags: Schjerfbeck, Velázquez, copyist, women artists, Scandinavian artists

Art students in the 19th C studied older artists’ paintings by copying them,Velázquez being a favorite. Many continued the practice throughout their careers. The work of Jeanette’s contemporary, Finnish artist Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), shows how interesting the copies could be and how different their original work eventually became. (more…)

Watercolorist

March 27, 2014

Tags: copyist, fans, fashion or clothes, Jeanette, Louvre

Early in my research when I was discovering that there were indeed women art students in Paris in the late 19th C, I came across this copyist. I have loved her and giggled over her ever since. Wouldn’t Jeanette have longed for that dress? But can any painter, even one who prefers watercolors (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.

Erasmus

January 24, 2013

Tags: painting in the novel, copyist, Jeanette, Louvre

Before there were photographic reproductions, artists copied in museums as part of their exploration of past masters' work; and the second-rate among them could make a living copying pictures that other people wanted as souvenirs for their walls. In a passage that was cut from the final text of Where the Light Falls, Jeanette watches a hardened old pro making yet another copy of Holbein's Erasmus. She has a brief exchange with him and reflects on how much her father would like to have the portrait in his study. As far as I'm concerned, the encounter took place and so I'm slipping it back into the world of the novel via this blog. Authors, do some scenes that fail to make the final cut remain potent in your memory? And, readers, when deleted material is subsequently published, do you incorporate it into your idea of a book?