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Picturing a World

Torn party dress

As we enter the season of parties, parties, parties, we can either rejoice or regret that the era of the lady’s maid in the cloak closet is long past. In 1922, Emily Post could still write, “Fifteen minutes before the dinner hour, Mrs. Worldly is already standing in her drawing-room.… She knows without  Read More 

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Salon Doré

Blog tip: The reopening of the newly renovated Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco on April 5th is the subject of a fascinating blog post at The History Blog. The original hotêl's history and fate could be those of the Renicks' house. Read More 
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Renicks’ garden

Garden history is one of my interests, and this image of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte shows the 17th C garden designed by the great André Le Nôtre that led to his being hired by Louis XIV to design the gardens at Versailles. It perfectly expresses the Baroque æsthetic that dominated French gardens for the next 150 years. By the last quarter of the 19th C, such formality had given way to the more naturalistic styles. In my novel, however, the Renicks take pleasure in having been able to restore their garden to its 18th C splendor. I visualized their garden as smaller than this but large even so and also shaded on the sides by trees grown old by the 1870’s.

During my research, I visited the Musée Rodin, which gave me an image of the back of the Renicks' house and allowed me to visualize a large garden in the heart of Paris. 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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Inside the Renicks' House

The delicious Museé Jacquemart-André helped me invent the interior of the Renicks' house even if my fictional house is supposed to be older. Artist Nélie Jacquemart and her banker husband, Edouard André, built the mansion to display their art collection, which included many 18th C paintings, tapestries, and objects. To walk through it was to be in the house of connoisseurs with tastes similar to Marius Renick's. Gay's Grand Salon suggests why, after entering the Renicks' house, Edward finds that from now on he must expand his imagination for aristocratic scenes when he reads Balzac. Read More 
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