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Picturing a World

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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Fanny Brate—Another one lost to marriage

In Where the Light Falls, Amy points out bitterly to Jeanette that marriage means the end of a woman’s career in art. So it was for Fanny Brate (1861–1940), a Swedish painter who entered the Royal Swedish Academy of Art in 1880 and  Read More 
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Life drawing, 1809

Website tip: Today's post of images from Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin's Microcosm of London at the always interesting blog, Spitalsfield Life, is a dandy for historical fiction novelists and fans of Georgian England. And I love the way this plate shows early 19th C lighting for a life class. Read More 
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Leyendecker at the Académie Julian

Blog tip: Yesterday’s Gurney Journey post lets you read what J. C. Leyendecker, a Golden Age illustrator, had to say about the Académie Julian. For an interesting article on Leyendecker as a gay artist who defined images of the American male, click hereRead More 
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Rodolphe Julian

Mention of Rodolphe Julian (1839–1907) in last week’s post on the clothed model made me realize that I should post on Julian himself—and, lo, another kneeling figure.

Born (and buried) in the village of Lapalud, Haut Vaucluse, in Provence, he was sent at an early age to Marseille to work in a bookstore. In the store he read  Read More 
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Class critique

I recently came across this picture by Albert Guillaume. William Adolphe Bouguereau criticizing student work in Jeanette’s class at the Académie Julian? Not quite, but mighty close! It appears in the January 14, 1905, issue of the French weekly, L’Illustration, accompanying the magazine’s review of a play, La Massière by Jules Lemaître. 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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Countess Marie Bashkirtseff

Artist unknown, Marie Bashkirtseff (1878)
Anyone researching women students at the Académie Julian comes up against Countess Marie Bashkirtseff from the get-go. Besides a self-portrait, she painted a picture, In the Studio of a women's class and kept a voluminous diary in which she recorded her drama-queen feelings, studio gossip, and lots of concrete particulars about what went on in the classes. Talented, vain about her looks, ambitious, and far from tactful, she attracted devoted followers but also provoked many of her classmates, some of whom rallied behind another star at the school, Louise Breslau. I suppose it was a detractor who produced this cartoon! Read More 
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Costumes

Rodolphe Julian brags to Jeanette on the size of his school's collection of costumes. As I wrote, I was aware of American illustrators, e.g., Abbey, and imagined a future for Jeanette in that field.

For a contemporary illustrator's explanation of why actual costumes are important and tips on how to make or obtain them, click hereRead More 
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No-nonsense woman artist

It may be unromantic on Valentine's Day, but what I love about this self-portrait is Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz's straightforward gaze, no-nonsense hair, and that apron. Admittedly, the dress is not really what you'd wear in the studio, not without a painter's smock to cover it fully. Still, there is no doubt that she wants you to think of her as a working artist. In different measures, I transferred her attitude to Amy and Sonja.

She was a student at the Académie Julian. For more information about her, click hereRead More 
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