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Picturing a World

Tiny gallery

Website alert: A Guardian article, Honey, they shrunk the art … top artists create works for tiny gallery features this abstract painting by Fiona Rae. Hurrah! She's new to me, and the project by the Pallant House Gallery is delicious to anyone who loves scale-model miniatures—including, of course, Queen Mary's Dollshouse, which was part inspiration for the current project.

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Helene Schjerfbeck’s Convalescent

A tick bite has me on a prophylactic antibiotic, which in turn has side effects. Drat! But it's a good excuse to post this image of a convalescent by Helen Schjerfbeck, which I recently ran across in an article about the artist.  Schjerfbeck was a splendid find for me at a show of Women Artists in Paris at the Clark. She's quite astonishing.
 
Convalescence was a common motif in late-19th C painting, but this one strikes me as particularly interesting because it doesn't stress piteousness. Instead it shows the child on the mend—a welcome motif during a pandemic. Or at the start of tick season. Stay well, everybody.

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Wallpaper trade card

Blog post alert: Once again, wallpaper caught my eye, this time in a trade card for James Wheeley's London Paper Hanging Warehouse. The designs of the unrolled merchandise and the paper on the wall; the dress of the customers, the salesman, and his assistants; the chair and the cutting table—any of these might provide a detail for a story. And there many, many more such cards to be studied in Spitalfield Life's Trade Cards of Old London.
 
It's remarkable where any of them might lead. You can even obtain the will of James Wheeley if you want. And on the wallpaper trade itself, check out Shopping for Wallpaper at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Costumes for stories

Blog post alert: Sarah's Questions about Costumes and Writing at Gurney Journey is full of suggestions  to aid artists in creating images of clothes, especially for imaginary worlds. Some of the ideas and links can be adopted in making up clothing for characters in fiction.

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Dakha muslin

An article at the BBC website, The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make, sent me poking on the internet. The cloth in question was Dakha muslin, which unlike the coarse fabric of today was so fine that it was virtually transparent. It was said that a sari made of it could be pulled through a woman's ring. Men and women alike seem to have worn it in India. It was in vogue in the West, too (Regency romance writers probably know all about it). Rembrandt even copied a picture almost identical to this one of Emperor Shah Jahan Standing on a Globe. It could certainly play a part in a story—either the real thing or fairy gossamer. To read more about it, click here.

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Now smell this!

Website alert: The Mauritshuis has put together an exhibition, Fleeting – Scents in Colour, which includes scent dispensers to allow viewers to catch an appropriate odor in front of a painting: the bleach for linen, ambergris, the rotten smells from a 17th C canal. They're even going to sell kits in the gift shop. Now if only historical-fiction writers had vocabulary equal to the experience of their noses! Or wait a minute, for a story idea, can this fit into the category or what could go wrong?

 Via Artnet.

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Hats, mirrors, frames

Blog post alert: Eye Candy for Today: Tarbell's Preparing for the Matinee caught my eye because it plays with cool interior spaces and a hat. You know the old joke: A lady from New York asks Bostonians where they get their hats and the answer is, "We have our hats!"

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Chinese Green Man?

A History Blog post on a 9th c. temple complex found in southwest China includes an image of tiles recovered from an ancient kiln. When I saw this one, my reaction was, a Chinese Green Man? Is that foliage on top of his head? Vines or snakes coming out of his mouth? A little poking around on the web turned up Kirtimukha, which may indeed be connected to the foliate heads of Western medieval art.

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Photographic time travel

I admit I don't understand all the technicalities explained in this YouTube, but whoa! is Time-Travel Rephotography ever fascinating (and more than a little scary). If it does nothing else for historical fiction writers, it should educate us in the ways older cameras distort people's faces so that, given an old photograph, we can try to imagine people from the past more sensitively. But like all doctored photograph, it is also a reminder of the ways we can be manipulated by computer programmers—although for speculative fiction writers, just think of the doors it opens!

 

Via Gurney Journey's Bringing Old Photos to Life, which discusses it and another app. from a color-specialist and animator's point of view.

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London street poor

Blog post alert: As a quick follow-up to yesterday's glimpse of street life in Paris at Parisian Fields, for London see John Thomson's Street Life at Spitalfields Life.

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