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Picturing a World

Beaux sketch

Sketches, studies, and unfinished work of any kind have an appealing immediacy. They are good for characterizing artists, and good reminders that rough drafts, false starts, and revision are all part of writing any sort of story. Cecilia Beaux's autobiography, Background with Figures, was a key source for me when I was researching Where the Light Falls. Wouldn't I have loved to have this image then! For anyone who wants a quick look at Beaux and the Breton art scene, the blog my daily art display has a good post on Beaux in Concarneau, the summer of 1888.

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Monet by Carolus-Duran

Website tip: I've just run across this drawing of Claude Monet by Carolus-Duran, which is up for sale. They were friends, and it's fun to see that they posed for each other informally. I suspect both would be astonished (and flattered?) at the asking price of $26,000!

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Crucifixion

Blog tip: In my fiction, I stay away from religion except for the externals, e.g., glances at my characters’ church attendance and Christmas. In recognition of the solemnity of Good Friday, however, I’m posting these studies as a reminder that artists have been drawn to religious topics throughout the ages. I first ran across the image in the archives of the Inspirational Artwork blog, which are worth exploring. Read 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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Emily Brontë sketches a place

Blog tip: Oh, the serendipitous discoveries available on the web! Emily Brontë left sketches? I never knew until I was taking a break and came upon this picture Sketchers too, an archived post at the blog Sketchuniverse. Does anyone know whether this illustrates a story Brontë wrote? Is anyone inspired to write one based on it?  Read More 
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Clothed model

When Jeanette first goes to the Académie Julian, Rodolphe Julian explains that he offers three classes to women in which the models are nude, draped, or fully clothed. The last was intended primarily for amateurs whose embarrassment at naked flesh could be accommodated. Nevertheless, the folds of clothing also required careful study as  Read More 
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Skeleton

When Jeanette and Amy take up the full nude at the Académie Julian in the fall of 1879, they have taken informal anatomy lessons from Wee Willie Winkham, based on the skeleton he owns as a medical student. Know the Skeleton, a recent post at  Read More 
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Letter from a party

Mention of Jeanette’s illustrated letters home had already been made in the narrative when my editor suggested using them to condense passages. The device proved helpful not only for summarizing events, but also for varying narrative rhythm and revealing the character’s attempts to shape her story for her family. In my imagination, moreover, I could make Jeanette as good a watercolorist as Albert Edelfelts! His letter (in Swedish) depicts “Mme Cotterau with Carolus Duran and Paul Deroulède.” It might as well be from Cornelia’s party after the portrait is unveiled, don’t you think?

For another page of the letter with a fashion doodle, click here.

For more information (in Swedish) at the vast Europeana website, click here

For an illustration of Paul Derouléde’s duel with Georges Clemenceau, click here. (Oh, the serendipity of the web!) Read More 
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Sargent's talent

Sargent was eighteen when he made this sketch of the fellow art student with whom he shared a studio, James Carroll Beckwith. It was drawn in 1874, the year Sargent began studying with Carolus-Duran. Seeing it gave me an idea of just how confident and skillful Sargent was when he showed the portfolio that won him admiration from the master and the other students in the atelier.

For a relatively early self-portrait by Sargent, click here. For Beckwith’s 1875 sketch of Sargent, click here.  Read More 
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Baby faces

When Amy hires a young mother with a baby to model for the afternoon class at the Académie Julian one week, Jeanette makes studies of the child’s face for future reference and includes the sheet in the portfolio she shows to Carolus-Duran later in the novel. Morisot’s sketches depict a somewhat older child, a toddler, but illustrate the same need to jot down impressions of children quickly because they don’t stay still for long.

ADDENDUM: Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son! Read More 
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