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Picturing a World

Holsøe’s Candlelight

Mostly, I like to highlight lesser known women artists, but sometimes it's worth calling attention to a man. A post at GurneyJourney reminded me of Danish painter, Carl Vilhelm Holsøe. Holsøe's depictions of rooms are atmospheric interiors, a genre at which his generation of Scandinavian artists seems to have excelled. (Think Harriet Backer or Anna Ancher.) I didn't know about him when I was imagining Jeanette's "portraits without people," but his work illustrates the way a room can embody psychological insight.
 
Pictures of rooms are also a boon to historical-fiction and fantasy writers for the details they provide—in this case, a candle in the darkness. 21st C people have little idea how dark rooms really were before electric lights. Older stories in which characters are hidden in shadow become much more believable when you experience a black-out, or light a room with only a candle or two as an experiment, or, as here, see the effect in art.

 

To see this still life as part of a larger interior, click here.

 

For more of Holsøe's work, click here.

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Zorn’s bathers

As we near Labor Day, Anders Zorn’s bathers are a reminder of summer’s pleasures that will soon be coming to an end. I loved this picture when I was writing about my young artists in Pont Aven. Nudes were basic to academic training  Read More 

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Wegmann and Bauch

Blog tip: This is one of around twenty portraits of Swedish artist Jeanna Bauck by her Danish friend Bertha Wegmann, who reciprocated with several portraits of Bauck. It appeared recently at a Gurney Journey post, one of several on artists painting each other’s portraits. What strikes me as a writer is the challenge in Bauck’s eye, her fashionable dress, the thoughtful touch of the eyeglasses to the mouth. What a lot the portrait could suggest for a fictional character!  Read More 

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Kitty Kielland's Studio

I love the way this painting illustrates a young artist’s studio as a place to live. The plain floor and dormer window hint at upper-storey, cheap digs. I didn’t include potted plants in any of my characters’ studios, but they turn up in other paintings and would be part of making an  Read More 

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Michael Ancher’s breakers

I gave my fictional artist Charlie Post an obsession with painting oncoming waves because that really was a motif for more than one 19th C painter—witness this one by Skagen artist Michael Ancher,  Read More 

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Anna Ancher’s summer

Today in the Berkshires is a day of hot sun, clear blue sky, and green meadows, lawns, trees, and plants. It’s summer. Anna Ancher’s Harvesters, on display at the Clark’s Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 perfectly captures the feel of such  Read More 

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Woman artist on a Breton beach

Yesterday, I went to the Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 show at The Clark in Williamstown. As good as I’d hoped—I’ll go again! Meanwhile, as I went through the galleries I played the game of deciding which painting I would choose if  Read More 

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Inside Looking Out

I had never seen a reproduction of Kitty Kielland’s Paris Interior until I read the catalogue for Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900. Now I can hardly wait to see it, first and foremost because it represents the life of a young woman artist, the life explored in Where the Light Falls. Second because I love pictures of views out windows (in fact, I love real views framed by real windows). And third because of the samovar. Read More 

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Happy artistic marriage

At last! A woman artist who was not squelched by her husband, but treated as an equal. This painting depicts Anna Ancher and her husband, Michael Ancher, thoughtfully absorbed in critiquing a canvas together.  Read More 

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Lunch at the Académie Julian

How I am looking forward to the upcoming exhibit, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 at the Clark Art Institute! I am fond of saying that writing historical fiction forces a novelist to ask different questions from those of historians, even cultural historians. For instance, where did a woman  Read More 

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