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Picturing a World

Marie-François Firmin-Girard

Blog post alert:> Thanks to a post at Line and Colors for introducing me to Marie-François Firmin-Girard. I love finding pictures that I might have used for Where the Light Falls had I come upon them in time.  Read More 
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Old London

Blog alert: Every morning, I check the blog Spitalfields Life. Today’s post, A Walk in Long Forgotten London is one of several devoted to Walter Thornbury’s Old & New London, an 1873 compilation of engravings of the London that was already disappearing when it was published.  Read More 
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Petit Honoré

It was great fun to invent the Petit Honoré where Robbie Dolson takes Jeanette and Effie instead of to Tortoni’s—so much fun that I made the café a favorite of Effie’s. (Generally speaking, if someone or something is important enough to  Read More 
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Votes for Women in Cincinnati

Of course, this should have been posted on Monday with an exhortation to vote (I hope you did). If you find the results of Tuesday's elections depressing, remember our foremothers worked and worked and kept working despite.

The Library of Congress captions this photograph, "Miss Louise Hall with brush and Miss Susan Fitzgerald assisting bill posting in Cincinnati."  Read More 
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Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee

I’m headed today for Bristol, where the Virginia/Tennessee state line runs right down a main street. Tomorrow at 10 A.M., I’ll be reading at the public library.

Readers: Doesn’t this picture invite story-telling?  Read More 
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Edward's apartment

When he returns to Paris from Rome, Edward sublets an apartment on the Right Bank in a new, comfortable district of straight boulevards, harmonious architecture, and no haunting history. Some critics claim that painters of urban modernity in the last quarter of the 19th C depicted alienation and emptiness. They would call your attention to how far Caillebotte’s solitary viewer is removed from the street. But to me, standing as he is at ease above a boulevard lined with trees and handsome buildings, the man suggests Edward: alone perhaps, yet content to contemplate the gifts of civilization and peace in contrast to the horrors of war.

For a street-level view by Caillebotte of the same sort of neighborhood (and solitary man), click hereRead More 
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Autumn street scene

When Sonja is ready to begin work on portrait medallions for Edward, she and Jeanette walk one silvery, wet night from La Poupée en Bas to the studio on the Rue Madame. I’d say Hassam’s picture depicts October rather than November, and the hour is obviously closer to sunset than true darkness. Still, it is the sort of streetscape that helped me imagine Paris in various seasons and lights. Notice especially here, the streetlamps and shop widows in the misty distance horizontally across the middle third of the painting. Read More 
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Café Tortoni

The Café Tortoni was a real place, posh and successful for most of the 19th C. Martial’s etching shows the Morris column or advertising kiosk that Robbie pretends to be perusing when Jeanette, Cousin Effie, and Emily arrive expecting to be treated to its famous ice cream.  Read More 
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View from a studio window

An artist about whom I read a lot at the beginning of my research was Cincinnati-born Elizabeth Nourse (1859–1938)), Jeanette's almost exact contemporary. She, too, studied at the Académie Julian (beginning in 1887) and made her career in Paris, where she lived with her sister. This view from her studio window fell in with my own (and Jeanette's!) love of pictures painted or photographed out of upper-storey windows. I gave Mabel Reade a studio on the Rue d'Assas because of this very image and had Cousin Effie talk her way into a studio more expensive than Amy and Sonja could afford for the same reason. Read More 
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Kiosk

At the end of their stay in Pont Aven, Amy proclaims herself ready again for the rough and tumble of Paris; and once back in the city, Jeanette discovers that she no longer feels like a new girl. I had a framed print of Béraud’s Kiosk beside my chair as I wrote Where the Light Falls : it set the mood perfectly.

The urbane gentleman on the right is dressed as Edward dresses when he goes out for his walks. What I noticed first, though, were the two women prettily lifting their skirts to negotiate the streets—Baron Haussmann’s clean, clean streets and wide pavements, where a lady could walk in city shoes. Jeanette would have visited this very intersection of the Rue Scribe and Boulevard des Capucines on her way from her bank to the Académie Julian. Read More 
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