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Picturing a World

Roman makeup

Website alert: Via a History Blog post, I got to this YouTube tutorial from English Heritage on how the Romans prepared and applied cosmetics. Imagine a tiny, curved mortar with a curved pestle that doubled as an applicator for eye-liner! Don't just imagine—watch. (With bonuses on Roman fabric dyes and wig-weaving.)

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New look

My website is hosted by the Author's Guild, which this month revamped its design templates, the better to fit cellphones and other screens. To celebrate the new, I'm posting a glimpse of the past. For a writer of historical fiction, a magazine cover from the year about which she is writing, which itself illustrates an earlier period, seems about right. Besides, I love textiles.

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Breslau’s milliners

Louise Catherine Breslau was a star student at the Académie Julian at the time during which Where the Light Falls is set. She does not play a role in the novel, but it was like coming across an old friend  Read More 

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Abbéma panels at Félix

What fun! An article, Paris Dressmakers, in the December 1894 issue of Strand Magazine reports on the fashion salon of the couturier known as M. Félix: “A gallery leading from the first salon to a second has four large panels, painted by Louise Abbéma, representing Sarah Bernhardt in ‘Ruy Blas,’ Croizette in the ‘Caprices of Marianne,’ Ada Rehan in the ‘School for Scandal,’ and a fancy costume of the period of Louis XV.” Read More 

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Marotte

Marottes were wooden or papier mâché forms used by hatmakers when they were decorating or showing their wares. They are clearly akin to penny wooden dolls and also remind me of artists’ lay figures. According to the OED, the word is possibly related to marionette, although the etymology of both is obscure. Read More 

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Millinery workshop

I am reading the catalogue for Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade, a 2017 exhibition at the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco. The show has now closed, but the museum mounted a great website where you can still explore some of its themes and images—including this illustration by Courboin. Read More 

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Marie Bracquemond’s umbrella

I am posting this largely because I think it’s gorgeous. As a teenager, Marie Bracquemond studied with Ingres and she learned etching from her husband, Félix Bracquemond. The elegance of her line no doubt reflects her training, but her use of color and  Read More 
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Ladies painting a bull

Blog post alert: James Gurney’s post on Von Hayek’s Animal-Painting Academy is the source of this photo of women artists en plein air. Besides the art-historical angle (and the clothes), I love the farmers in the distance watching. What story do you suppose they might tell?! Read More 
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Women in the East End, Londo

Blog tip: Check out two photographic blog posts at Spitalsfield Life. Together they offer countless visual details and suggest scores of stories. Women of the Old East End publishes carte-de-visites of women from the 1860’s to 1940. I’ve chosen this girl with her  Read More 
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Top hats at the garden party

I spent happy hours visualizing Cornelia Renick’s garden party, with very clear ideas of what Jeanette, Effie, and Emily were wearing. But although I dressed the men in black, I forgot their top hats (except Robbie’s)! Now, thanks to this image, when I reread my own chapter, I’ll have to  Read More 
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