instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Picturing a World

Morisot Exhibition catalogue

My Christmas gift to myself this year was the exhibition catalogue for the show Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist, which is at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia until January 14, 2019. From there it will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art and on to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. If you can, go see it!  Read More 

Be the first to comment

Edwardian Christmas morning

An Edwardian Christmas by John S. Goodall is a gentle treat, an indulgence in nostalgia that can surely be forgiven in unsettling times. I bought a used copy a few years ago and happily turn its wordless pages every December.

For this and other images from the book, click here.

And Merry Christmas! Read More 

Be the first to comment

Christmas commerce and celebration

I was looking for a seasonal image and found this “Christmas gifts” issue of Vogue for 1918. A hundred years later, it reminds us of the joyous and tattered end of World War I. And it’s by an American woman artist! Helen Dryden. Born in Baltimore in 1882, she moved to New York in 1909 to sell artwork to magazines—just about the time that ANONYMITY’s Mattie would have known her. Perfect. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Visit from Saint Nicholas

Website alert: The American Antiquarian Society has posted a digitized version of a recent donation—a copy of the first illustrated, book-length edition of Clement Moore’s poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, published in 1848. The interior of the house is depicted as furnished more sparely than we have grown accustomed to seeing it, and the Santa Claus clearly predates the Norman Rockwell—Coca-Cola version! I wonder whether looking at this version might prompt a 21st C writer to a new response to the old favorite? Read More 

Be the first to comment

Views from above

Although I live in a country town where some friends and I will decorate the town library this week with greens cut from our own properties, there’s a part of me that still associates Christmas shopping with big cities: Atlanta, where I grew up; Boston; Paris, where I spent an enchanted holiday with an aunt and cousins. It’s the Paris connection that popped into my mind when I ran across Caillebotte’s Boulevard again today. Read More 

Be the first to comment

17th Century watercolors

Blog tip: Although Erik Kwakkel's fascinating post on a 17th C artist’s manual on mixing watercolors is four years old, its link to a Colossal blog post with additional images is still live. The original manuscript is Aix-en-Provence, Bibliothèque municipale/Bibliothèque Méjanes, MS 1389 (1228) Read More 

Be the first to comment

Murder, She Wrote

Blog tip: If you are thinking about writing a murder mystery set in medieval London, check out Cambridge University’s medieval murder map. It not only locates 142 fourteenth-century homicides but also supplies documentation for each and provides some useful short essays. Via The History BlogRead More 

Be the first to comment

Wintry inspiration

In her introduction to the 2016 edition of The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin says, “The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.”

Imagery, like music, can induce feelings as well as ideas; it conveys complex attitudes, multiple meanings. Through her painting, Nom kinnear king expresses what she explores in the only way she fully can. Trying to put it into words would be pointless.

And yet, for those of us who are inspired by art while we are writing fiction, a picture may suggest a plot line. It may offer a concrete detail for a scene. Or it may just as well go into the unconscious and work magic. Gretta, I think, is going to haunt me into winter. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Thanksgiving 2018

Things you love sometimes lead you to personal connections that no one else might ever make but which nourish your soul. This year I have been exploring the art of Samuel Palmer. Every November I read Greer Gilman’s Moonwise. In September, up popped this engraving by Andrew Davidson, which reminded me of both. It also suggested its own mysteries independent even of the Riggs story it illustrates.

Great stimulants to the imagination are gifts to be thankful for, especially in dark times. Read More 

Be the first to comment

Beatrice Baxter Ruyl

I love illustrated books, which in today’s world largely means children’s books. This combination of text and illustration from 1909 is by Beatrice Baxter Ruyl (who posed for photographer Gertrude Käsebier’s picture The Sketch). The children’s book pulp-fiction syndicate for  Read More 

Post a comment