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Picturing a World

Visit from Saint Nicholas

Website alert: The American Antiquarian Society has posted a digitized version of a recent donation—a copy of the first illustrated, book-length edition of Clement Moore’s poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, published in 1848. The interior of the house is depicted as furnished more sparely than we have grown accustomed to seeing it, and the Santa Claus clearly predates the Norman Rockwell—Coca-Cola version! I wonder whether looking at this version might prompt a 21st C writer to a new response to the old favorite? Read More 

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Hallowe’en cats

Blog tips: Vintage Halloween postcards at the Toronto Public Library is an archived post with lots of images of Halloween cards from ca. 1910 and links to the library’s collections. Usually I’d choose a witch to offer as a treat for Hallowe’en, but there’s something weirdly imaginative about these menacing Jack-o-lanterns and their panicked cats that tickles my fancy this (and there is a witch in the upper right-hand corner). A different card at the American Antiquarian Society, moreover, makes clear that the gauzy bows could be perceived as witches’ bodies. For it and another set of vintage Hallowe’en cards, click here.

And whether you trick or treat or celebrate Samhain as the pagan new year, have a happy, safe Hallowe’en—with just a touch of the spooky or wild! Read More 

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Who knew?

Blog post tip: I’m speechless. Who knew? William Faulkner drew? Read more at Maria Popova’s Brainpickings post, William Faulkner’s Little-Known Jazz Age Drawings, with a Side of Literary Derision.

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Typists' strike

This 1919 poster, which shows typists as New Women who are voicing demands by striking is, in fact, an advertising poster for Labor brand typewriters (see Ruth E. Iskin, “Popularising New Women in Belle Epoque Advertising Posters,” in A Belle Epoque?: Women and Feminism in French Society and Culture, 1890–1914 (2006). But, heck!, it’s a great image. And if we have to resist the Lords of Creation, we might as well do it handsomely. Sisters, solidarity—and happy Labor Day! Read More 

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Note of Explanation

Lovely serendipity: Face-out at a local independent bookstore this week, I found A Note of Explanation by Vita Sackville-West. As if a previously unpublished jeu d’esprit by Sackville-West were not enough, there were the ravishingly elegant, Art Deco illustrations by Kate Baylay who is, for me, a real discovery. I do love illustrated books, especially those that are handsomely made, as this one is. And it’s about Queen Mary’s dollhouse! Not only that, it was originally written to be one of the tiny volumes in the dollhouse library. Read More 

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Sarah Stilwell Weber

Sarah Stilwell Weber is known primarily for her illustration of children, which fits nicely with my heroine Mattie who works in children’s publishing; but I have selected this Collier cover because it is so richly striking. Weber studied with Howard Pyle and was associated with his famous female students, the Red Rose Girls. This picture suggests to me that she also kept up with larger art world and knew the work of Gustav Klimt. It’s always a mistake to think that creative people are limited to whatever work makes them famous or pays the bills!

For more about Weber, click here and hereRead More 
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Jérémy Soheylian

It’s always a thrill to encounter a picture that opens into a world you are reading about or imagining. This morning, when I checked Charley Parker’s blog, Lines and Colors, I was rewarded with glimpses of French landscapes and architectural details by artist Jérémy Soheylian which helped me visualize the setting for a current story of mine. Read More 

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Illustrators' earnings in 1910

Blog post tip: A list of earnings of the 25 top illustrators of 1910 (along with short bios and several examples of work) is posted at Money in the Face of the Modern Girl. Although only three were women, it’s interesting that their earnings placed them in the median. Read More 
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Bel Salvage

When I read Philip Pullman’s new novel, La Belle Sauvage last fall, I noted with a little puzzlement that he has the hero, Malcolm, explain the name of his canoe by saying that an uncle owns a pub called La Belle Sauvage downriver.  Read More 
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Lost murals found

Blog tip: Cecil Osbourne’s Lost Murals Rediscovered at Spitalfields Life tells the story of how murals depicting life in London neighborhoods wound up being rescued. Images of the full murals (which can be enlarged) are posted. To me, it  Read More 
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