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Picturing a World

Trilby

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.
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