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.

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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

Garden party in February

February 17, 2014

Tags: garden party

A snowy recent post at the Ephemeral New York blog site sent me to the marvellous website of The Phillips Collection, which somehow I had missed up to now. In general, Beal’s work is (more…)

Letter from a party

November 4, 2013

Tags: Carolus-Duran, fashion or clothes, garden party, sketches

Mention of Jeanette’s illustrated letters home had already been made in the narrative when my editor suggested using them to condense passages. The device proved helpful not only for summarizing events, but also for varying narrative rhythm and revealing the character’s attempts to shape her story for her family. In my imagination, moreover, I could make Jeanette as good a watercolorist as Albert Edelfelts! His letter (in Swedish) depicts “Mme Cotterau with Carolus Duran and Paul Deroulède.” It might as well be from Cornelia’s party after the portrait is unveiled, don’t you think?

For another page of the letter with a fashion doodle, click here.

For more information (in Swedish) at the vast Europeana website, click here

For an illustration of Paul Derouléde’s duel with Georges Clemenceau, click here. (Oh, the serendipity of the web!)

Croizette and Bernhardt

October 31, 2013

Tags: Bernhardt, Croizette, entertainment, garden party

One of the better readers of my manuscript objected to having the two actresses appear at the garden party (too hokey), but I thought a little razzle-dazzle was called for. Besides, don’t we all get a kick out of a celebrity cameo appearance?

When I began my research, Sophie Croizette was discovery for me. (more…)

Cendre de rose

October 28, 2013

Tags: Stevens, Jeanette, fashion or clothes, fans, garden party

Before it came time to design Jeanette’s costume for Cornelia’s garden party, I had seen Stevens' Summer at the Francine and Sterling Clark Art Institute. I went back. Perfect! On Jeanette’s budget, it had to be modified—among other things, fewer ruffles—but I loved the suggestion of a color for her, a grayish pink, ash rose, rose cinders (Cinderella at the ball?).

For an actual dress at the Victoria and Albert Museum that is somewhat similar, click here and look at the second dress on the second row.

For a large selection of French fashion plates from the 1870’s at the New York Public Library, click here.

For Griselda Pollock's discussion of Stevens' paintings of the four seasons at the Clark, click here.

Renicks’ garden

October 24, 2013

Tags: Renicks, gardens, garden party

Garden history is one of my interests, and this image of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte shows the 17th C garden designed by the great André Le Nôtre that led to his being hired by Louis XIV to design the gardens at Versailles. It perfectly expresses the Baroque æsthetic that dominated French gardens for the next 150 years. By the last quarter of the 19th C, such formality had given way to the more naturalistic styles. In my novel, however, the Renicks take pleasure in having been able to restore their garden to its 18th C splendor. I visualized their garden as smaller than this but large even so and also shaded on the sides by trees grown old by the 1870’s.

During my research, I visited the Musée Rodin, which gave me an image of the back of the Renicks' house and allowed me to visualize a large garden in the heart of Paris.