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Picturing a World

Equestriénne

When I first came across this painting, I thought of Cornelia Renick, who had been a rider. Here was her outfit. Then I learned that the woman in the painting was Carolus-Duran’s sister-in-law, the actress Sophie Croizette, a star of the Comédie Française. Yippee! Cornelia presses Edward to attend her garden party by dangling Croizette’s attendance as bait. Edward remembers having seen an engraving of this very painting. Since I made up Edward’s magazine, the engraving is fictional—though if anyone knows of a real one, please tell us about it in a comment! Read More 
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Dusty red Rome

In the 2nd C A.D., more than 1.5 million people lived in Rome. In the mid 19th C, the population was a tenth that size. Visitors were struck by the plethora of ruins within and surrounding the city. Instead of the white marble they expect, Edward and Carl find red brick and dust.

Yet Rome was also a cultural center, where not only was the art of the past on display, but artists still trained, including Scandinavians like Eckersberg and (perhaps of more interest to readers of this blog) women sculptors like Harriet HosmerRead More 
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Effie's "Lady's Guide"

An early Eureka! moment on this project came when I saw a reference to May Alcott Nieriker’s Studying Art Abroad and How To Do It Cheaply. Wow! Louisa May Alcott’s sister wrote a book for women who wanted to study art in Paris in 1879? Read More 
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Research

The Spanish painter Sorolla captures the intensity of a 19th C scientific researcher and his colleagues in a laboratory. Outside science fiction, the topic of scientific research is not much explored in art or literature (some of my own chapter was edited out). In painting, I can think of only a few medical examples,  Read More 
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Flight into Egypt

The Renicks’ copy of Rembrandt’s Flight allowed me to show Edward and Jeanette reacting together to the same evocative object but with different emotional responses. In this scene, the painting embodies emotional light and shadow, the need for safety and the longing for transcendence. In general, it illustrates artists’ concern for sources of light and where the falls. The hidden moon also echoes Charlie Post’s sickle moon, and the fire adds that touch of red or warm color that plays into several compositions in the book. Read More 
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Edward's Les Vosges

When I was inventing Les Vosges, a crowded, unpretentious neighborhood eating place near Les Halles, Manet’s crowded Café hovered vaguely in the back of my mind (more for its atmosphere than the exact look of the place). The beer mugs certainly fit with an Alsatian restaurant. The customers still in their outer wraps and the fogged window suggest an inelegant but popular place. The woman looks pleased, and I’d like to think it’s because the food and the beer are good. Read More 
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Les Halles

After his fencing less, Edward finds himself in the vicinity of Les Halles, the great covered food market of central Paris. Outside its steel-and-glass structure, street vendors gathered in the open air as Gilbert depicts them here and as they still gather in the tree-shaded squares of smaller towns in France on market days.

NB: an inquisitive dog on the loose in the lower right-hand corner and two more cheerfully settled behind a stand. Read More 
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Tuileries Garden

On a fall visit to Paris, Edward walks through the Tuileries Garden as evening descends. Imagine him walking the wide path to the left in Pissarro’s painting, which also captures the bare trees that for a moment carry Edward's mind back to Shiloh. The detail that ducks left rippling wakes in the big round pool seen on the center left margin of the painting comes in a letter from Kenyon Cox, an Ohio art student who was in Paris in the late 1870’s. The woman buying roasted chestnuts for her children at the entrance to the garden was inspired by a print or painting that I saw on line. If anybody happens to know of one, please send me the link! Read More 
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Kiosk

At the end of their stay in Pont Aven, Amy proclaims herself ready again for the rough and tumble of Paris; and once back in the city, Jeanette discovers that she no longer feels like a new girl. I had a framed print of Béraud’s Kiosk beside my chair as I wrote Where the Light Falls : it set the mood perfectly.

The urbane gentleman on the right is dressed as Edward dresses when he goes out for his walks. What I noticed first, though, were the two women prettily lifting their skirts to negotiate the streets—Baron Haussmann’s clean, clean streets and wide pavements, where a lady could walk in city shoes. Jeanette would have visited this very intersection of the Rue Scribe and Boulevard des Capucines on her way from her bank to the Académie Julian. Read More 
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Swiss Interlude

Geographical accuracy is one thing, inspiration another. Although Sainte-Addresse is on the coast of Normandy, not in Switzerland, in imagination I transferred the atmosphere of Monet’s seaside garden to a lakeside hotel terrace for Edward and Theodore’s conversation about Kiel and the Louvre. All the while that I pictured lawns sloping down to Lake Constance and mountains across the lake, this painting of full sun on bright nasturtiums, geraniums, and gladiolus, of flags snapping in the breeze, and an expanse water with boats also shaped the scene for me. Instead of viewing it from a high above, however, I squatted just behind and between the brothers. Read More 
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