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Picturing a World

Teacher and pupil

It has to be said of Félix Bracquemond, that although he was a domestic tyrant who stymied his wife’s career in the end, he also taught her well. Best known now for his etchings, he taught her printmaking techniques which she put to exquisite use as in this portrait of her sister, Louise Quivoron. There is no reason to deny that men have cramped women’s careers, but it might be an interesting challenge to write a novel about a marriage that simultaneously expands a woman’s capacities while constraining her ability to pursue an independent career. And what would her sister be like? What would be her role? 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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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 
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