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Picturing a World

Ancher’s blue room

Although a little girl is, in fact, shown sitting on a chair in this painting, it was one of the pictures I had in mind when I invented Jeanette’s interest in rooms as “portraits without people.” Anna Ancher, an almost exact contemporary of Jeanette,  Read More 
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Dutch interior, empty room

This is the painting I have a melancholy Jeanette copy in the Louvre after Edward has gone south to Dr. Aubanel’s sanatorium. It would obviously appeal to an artist who perceives empty rooms as “portraits without people.”

Samuel van Hoogstraten was  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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Book clubs

In the past week, two more book clubs—one in Athens, Ga., and one in Worcester, Mass.—were generous enough to invite me to discuss Where the Light Falls. It's wonderful to be invited into people's homes; and as a little thank-you, here is a link to a recent post on American Victorian domestic interiors. When I saw Lamson's Sitting Room, I thought of Maude Hendrick's sitting room in New York. It will be a continuing pleasure to remember the hospitality given me in yours! 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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A New York dining room

To help me imagine scenes of Jeanette at her Aunt Maude’s house, this 1866 painting of a New York dining room supplied details of carpet, furnishings, crown moldings, door frames, etc. It also gave me a sense of how full Aunt Maude’s upstairs parlor should feel. Most surprising and cheering were all the small oil paintings on the walls. The Hendricks would not have owned so many, but Contest for the Bouquet shows that my young women artists were being realistic when they hoped to sell small-scale fine art to buyers for hanging at home.

By the way, this blog has turned up another coincidence: Do you see how the painting on the far wall echoes Moore's Morning over New York in the previous post? Does anything else in the painting specially strike you? Read More 
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