Website alert: This morning, my husband sent me a link to Old Book Illustrations, searchable by subject, artist, or book title. He has a special interest in William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites. I have a special interest in female illustrators. Put them together in a quick search and voilà: One of Florence Harrison's illustrations for Early Poems of William Morris. Have fun!
Picturing a World
I had labeled this image, saved from a medieval moraized Ovid, as "Teeth in open mouth" because depictions of teeth are rare. What interests me now, however, is the expressions on the faces. At first glance, the wings seem to say "angels." But the lady is clearly up to no good, and the young man seems uneasy despite his crown.
As a follow-up to our writer in the library, Mrs. Sperling at her. needlework is another glimpse of Regency life. It prompts fewer ideas for stories, but isn't it cheerful? I love the way you look through the open French doors into trees, for instance. And it leads to Mrs. Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life, 1812–1823, with with all the freshness of amateur-artist Diana Sperling's authentic delight in the life around her.
Oddly enough, I remembered this watercolor as "Lady Pole in Her Library." Nope, the artist was Thomas Pole, an American transplant to Bristol, England, a doctor and Quaker preacher—no titled lady involved. Still, you know me: it's all about using images to prompt story ideas. And quiet as it is, In the Library has some suggestive clues.
Man, had I forgotten this one! But I see why I saved it. A 19th C artist, his studio, a lay figure, mirror images, picture frames—so much to linger over. An art-appreciation teacher might point to the way verticals and diagonals direct the eye, or the way the lighting picks out the gilding and that impressive mechanical figure. But what attracts a writer? What stories does His Favorite Model suggest?
Frankly, recent news for women, workers, minorities, and democracy has been largely discouraging. Still, let's buck each other up and remember the struggle is long. Happy Labor Day!
Via the National Archives.
Another image I have run across as I review my files is this one from Farm Crops in Britain. I love models and diagrams and illustrations that can help me visualize settings within a story. This page, for instance, is packed with information about walls and buildings and activities for a farm in stony country. I tucked it away for reference; but in addition, Stanley Roy Badmin was a pleasant illustrator and landscape artist. I'm glad I discovered him—and have now rediscovered him!
Blog post alert: Audrey Munson, Artists' Muse at Gurney Journey is a post on the career of a professional model in New York City during the early 20th C. It has several pictures and links to longer coverage. In brief: she posed for Beaux-Arts sculptors, appeared nude in a 1915 movie about a model, lived to be 104, and spent half her life in an insane asylum. I don't think she has figured in any historical fiction, but she sure could!
Image via Wikipedia Commons
I have now visited the Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway show at the Clark twice, once with no prior preparation and once after reading the catalogue. To prepare for a third visit, I have begun reading Pavel Machotka's Cézanne: Landscape into Art in hopes of discovering useful ways of thinking about the paintings; for Astrup's deeply felt response to his native landscape remind me of Cezanne's. What Machotka unexpectedly gave me, too, was a way of thinking about a story I've been working on.