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Picturing a World

Artist-soldier’s notebook at war

Writers jot down thoughts; artists jot down images. As a follow-up to my previous post on Edward Ardizzone's war paintings, here's a drawing from the same year, 1944, by Victor Alfred Lundy, a soldier who kept a notebook all through his service during WWII. He donated it to the Library of Congress, which has digitized the whole thing and made it available to the public. This particular page reminded me of Félix Bracquemond's etching of Bastion 84, the post where Parisian artists including Carolus-Duran served during the Franco-Prussian seventy-five years earlier. Like letters home, off-the-cuff drawings have an immediacy that historical fiction writers can plumb—but sometimes you also have to stand back and observe in silence. Six from L Company hurt here, six killed.
Thanks, James Gurney.

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Edward Ardizzone's war paintings

For Veterans Day: Ever since I was a child and loved Eleanor Farjeon's Little Bookroom, Edward Ardizzone has been one of my favorite illustrators of children's books. And now Art and Artists has shown me a whole new dimension in his work. This watercolor from the Second World War is nothing like any other war pictures I've ever seen, and it's just one of many by Ardizzone. Check out this post on Ardizzone at Art and Artists. (It's the fifth of fifteen installments! Believe me, I'll be exploring them one by one.)

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Plautilla Nelli: Forgotten Renaissance woman artist

Website tip: Restoration of a much-damaged Renaissance mural brings to light the work of Plautilla Nelli, a nun whose work was often commissioned through her convent, where she trained other women painters as her assistants. Read more about it in Restored to Glory in the Guardian.

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Trains, Then and Now (1897)

Although the contrast is supposedly between trains of 1837 and 1897, I love the way the speed of "Now" is transferred to the cartoonishly running passengers. Somehow it works visually to suggest surging energy from the oncoming (stationary) engine. And note the two classes of cars in Then, the Pullman car in the background of Now. The whole page might supply an older character's memory. Each vignette might yield a story or a plot point. Small details can add just the needed authentic touch. What would you do with it?


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