How many million (billion?) images of Nôtre-Dame de Paris have been posted in the last forty-eight hours? There can't be too many.
Picturing a World
Blog post tip: Like much at Terri Windling's Myth and Moor, a recent post—On home, land, and the view out the window—rings true to the mythic-arts side of my imagination. Even better for me, it is illustrated with images from one of Jeanette's exact contemporaries, Elizabeth Forbes (1859–1912) who spent time in Pont-Aven as well as working at the center of the Newlyn art colony in Cornwall. Check it out!
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.
Worried about cultural appropriation? Then what to make of a Chinese wallpaper produced for an English market, hung by a Yorkshire aristocrat, and added to by extra birds cut out of her copy of John Jacob Audubon's extraordinary Birds of America (one of 200 printed)? I ran across the story in The Papered Wall and chased it further in The 19th-Century Lady Who Used Audubon's Birds for Wallpaper, which has a terrific five-minute YouTube about the room and its other commissioned East-Meets-West treasures. The room is also the topic of the Audubon Society's DIY for Aristocrats: Rare Audubon Prints Turned Into Fancy-Pants Wallpaper, which has a link to hi-rez images of Audubon's plates (including the Columbia Jay).
Serendipity in my blog crawling! The History Blog's Rare Brazilian feathered cloak restored, exhibited concerns a gorgeous orange-red cloak made of feathers while Honoring the Wild at Myth and Moor contains an image of a mysteriously evocative sculpture by Hib Sabin of a raven wearing just such a cloak. The detail of rarity hanging in a collection is from a 1666 catalogue of the Setalla Gallery of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan. A spirit cloak, contemporary mythic sculpture, a 17thC cabinet of curiosities—so many hints and suggestions for metaphors and story lines. What would be your take?
Blog post alert: Once you notice something, you start seeing examples everywhere. The street-seller of plaster images was new to me a few weeks ago—now here's one from Spitalsfield Life.
I'm always on the lookout for images that reveal something about the life of Parisian artists' models. Bertha Newcombe was an English suffragist, who studied at the Académie Colarrossi in Paris. Here, her woman's-eye sketch of the end of a day captures how tired the hardworking her fellow art students were and how matter-of-fact the model was in putting her clothes back on. More of Newcombe's work can be found at Wikipedia Commons, including a nifty women's suffrage poster.
Shaun Tan is one of my favorite artist-authors—brilliant, sly, offbeat, insightful. When I saw an advanced review of Cicada, I pre-ordered it from a local independent bookstore on the assumption that anything Tan did would be wonderful. I picked it up. Read it. Reread daily. Feel throb. Laugh out loud. Tok tok tok. My advice? Seek it out!
The real Jeanette published a short story in the December 1915 Young's Magazine. In trying to run it down, I came across this image. 1908? Pulp fiction? Perfect for my fictional Mattie and for Valentine's Day!
Aubrey Lanston, a graduate of Georgetown University and member of the bar in the state of Washington, wrote historical fiction. He called The Harvesters "My first accepted, but by no means my first seriously intended novel." (See The Book News Monthly, Volume 22 (1904), p. 319) We'll assume he was more than happy to have A Roman Holiday appear in this breezier format. And don't most of us writers know about those unpublished novels in the drawer!
Blog post tip: On October 15, 2014, Rodama: a blog of 18thC & Revolutionary French Culture posted a series of six rare drawings of 18thC techniques for manufacturing and hanging wallpaper. They were probably intended as submissions for Diderot's Encyclopédie. For the historical fiction writer, can't they stimulate the imagination from the point of view of either the workers or the householder who ordered new decoration?