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Picturing a World

Man with a boat

Whether Pissarro's Turkeys hung in the 4th Impressionist show (1879) or not, Caillbotte's Man Docking His Skiff certainly did. Because I had the good luck to see it in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and could examine the actual weave of the canvas and brushstrokes it went onto a short list of paintings for my characters to see, too. What fires the imagination is what matters the most in writing fiction.

Another image from the 1879 show that I singled out for my characters to notice was Degas’ La La at the Cirque Fernando. To see the painting at my earlier post on the Cirque Fernando, click here. When Jeanette sees La La with Edward, the picture’s extraordinary vantage point disturbs her; and that moment allowed me to dramatize briefly how new to American art students the Impressionist movement was.

Effie’s memory of the circus also links two passages in the novel. I like to include interlacings and echoes that give them depth the way extra strokes give depth to shadows in a drawing or—perhaps a better analogy—touches of the same color on different parts of a canvas integrate a picture.
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