instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Bouguereau

Jeanette Palmer is fictional; but one of the masters at the Académie Julian, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, fostered the career of a real American woman, Elizabeth Jane Gardner, whom eventually he married as his second wife. Click here for his portrait of her, which was also painted in 1879.

Is it my imagination, or does his self-portrait reveal a sadness and sensitivity unexpected in a painter of marzipan nudes and sentimental children? In any case, besides using him to dramatize the teaching methods employed at the time, I wanted the novel to portray the esteem with which he was held by his students. The touch of red on his collar is the much-coveted badge indicating membership in the Legion of Honor. Read More 
Be the first to comment

Countess Marie Bashkirtseff

Artist unknown, Marie Bashkirtseff (1878)
Anyone researching women students at the Académie Julian comes up against Countess Marie Bashkirtseff from the get-go. Besides a self-portrait, she painted a picture, In the Studio of a women's class and kept a voluminous diary in which she recorded her drama-queen feelings, studio gossip, and lots of concrete particulars about what went on in the classes. Talented, vain about her looks, ambitious, and far from tactful, she attracted devoted followers but also provoked many of her classmates, some of whom rallied behind another star at the school, Louise Breslau. I suppose it was a detractor who produced this cartoon! Read More 
Be the first to comment

Costumes

Rodolphe Julian brags to Jeanette on the size of his school's collection of costumes. As I wrote, I was aware of American illustrators, e.g., Abbey, and imagined a future for Jeanette in that field.

For a contemporary illustrator's explanation of why actual costumes are important and tips on how to make or obtain them, click hereRead More 
Be the first to comment

No-nonsense woman artist

It may be unromantic on Valentine's Day, but what I love about this self-portrait is Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz's straightforward gaze, no-nonsense hair, and that apron. Admittedly, the dress is not really what you'd wear in the studio, not without a painter's smock to cover it fully. Still, there is no doubt that she wants you to think of her as a working artist. In different measures, I transferred her attitude to Amy and Sonja.

She was a student at the Académie Julian. For more information about her, click hereRead More 
1 Comments
Post a comment

Académie Julian

This photo gives an idea of how many women crowded into Rodolphe Julian's highly successful art classes, and the drawings mounted on the wall shows how good the best of them were. Notice how they are posed so that not everyone is staring straight ahead at the canera. That was a 19th C convention for group photographs. It is artificial, but it does enliven the composition—just a little prod toward the historical novelist's goal of imagining them as separate individuals, each with her own story.

For Jefferson David Chalfant's informative painting of one of the men's studios, click here.  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Boulevard Montmartre

In New York City, Jeanette has been told about an art school called the Académie Julian. Now in Paris, in Chapter Eight, as soon as she and Effie have rented an apartment, they set out to find it. The school, which admitted women students (unlike the national École des Beaux-Arts) was located in the Passage des Panaromas, a shopping arcade that ran—and still runs—north from the rue Saint-Marc to the boulevard Montmartre. Jeanette and Effie walk its length and are momentarily baffled when they find themselves here, on the boulevard beside the Theatre des Variétés. I have stood at this very spot; the passage would be to the right if it were in the oil sketch, Read More 
Be the first to comment