Sketches, studies, and unfinished work of any kind have an appealing immediacy. They are good for characterizing artists, and good reminders that rough drafts, false starts, and revision are all part of writing any sort of story. Cecilia Beaux's autobiography, Background with Figures, was a key source for me when I was researching Where the Light Falls. Wouldn't I have loved to have this image then! For anyone who wants a quick look at Beaux and the Breton art scene, the blog my daily art display has a good post on Beaux in Concarneau, the summer of 1888.
Picturing a World
Worried about cultural appropriation? Then what to make of a Chinese wallpaper produced for an English market, hung by a Yorkshire aristocrat, and added to by extra birds cut out of her copy of John Jacob Audubon's extraordinary Birds of America (one of 200 printed)? I ran across the story in The Papered Wall and chased it further in The 19th-Century Lady Who Used Audubon's Birds for Wallpaper, which has a terrific five-minute YouTube about the room and its other commissioned East-Meets-West treasures. The room is also the topic of the Audubon Society's DIY for Aristocrats: Rare Audubon Prints Turned Into Fancy-Pants Wallpaper, which has a link to hi-rez images of Audubon's plates (including the Columbia Jay).
Serendipity in my blog crawling! The History Blog's Rare Brazilian feathered cloak restored, exhibited concerns a gorgeous orange-red cloak made of feathers while Honoring the Wild at Myth and Moor contains an image of a mysteriously evocative sculpture by Hib Sabin of a raven wearing just such a cloak. The detail of rarity hanging in a collection is from a 1666 catalogue of the Setalla Gallery of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan. A spirit cloak, contemporary mythic sculpture, a 17thC cabinet of curiosities—so many hints and suggestions for metaphors and story lines. What would be your take?