A History Blog post, Diana Cecil's lips restored to former thin splendor, concerns the restoration of a 1634 portrait of Diana Cecil. What struck me most, however, was this earlier portrait by William Larkin. Just look at those textiles! We live in an age of conspicuous consumption, no doubt about it; but our fashionistas can't begin to compete with the luxurious attire of the Renaissance. Display was the whole point.
Picturing a World
In the week or so between Thanksgiving and Saint Nicholas Day, I try to keep Christmas frenzy at bay (with, of course, the minor cheating, like starting an Advent calendar). An annual rereading of Greer Gilman's Moonwise is a good compromise: mythic, ritual, and seasonal. So is literal walking in November woods. Yesterday, under a gray sky, I was on a hillside floored with fallen leaves and realized I was walking "in 'tCloudwood."
Holidays are repetitious. Repetitions make commercial work easier. Even writers who try to avoid doing so repeat themselves unconsciously. After all, humans (as well as AI) are pattern-seeking creatures. Well, may your holiday fall into whatever pattern you love—or carry you into novel ways of picturing your world. Happy Thanksgiving!
Image via a Norman Rockwell Museum post, Illustrations as easy as pie.
Well, I meant to post this image at Hallowe'en. Having no inspiration to start off Thanksgiving week, I'll toss it out for any giggle it might bring you. And who knows? Maybe it will prompt somebody to write a holiday story—something about party ideas in a turn-of-the-century American magazine? maybe a fantasy story about a fashionable coven in an alternative universe? What's your fancy?
A 16th manuscript containing hundreds of plants pressed between its pages—what better to inspire historical fiction or a fantasy story? The Herbarium of Ulisse Aldrovandi could provide a precise model for a story set in the Renaissance or a modern-day tale of scholarly sleuthing. Taking a cue from it, you might invent your own magical or scientific object. It could be the hobby of a scientifically inclined woman, the collection of a botanist devoted to creating a taxonomy, or the magical hoard of a literate witch. It might be comprise pressed plants only or it might involve plants stuck between the pages of a lavishly illustrated herbal. In any case, the pictures and the very idea of it made my heart go pitter-pat!
Image via Royal Society Open Science website.
Words could evoke the rural setting—the mythical America Americans like to believe in. They could make the dog running to greet his master recall Odysseus's homecoming. But the set of those shoulders? No. In a world where wars continue and continue, we need all the arts—visual, poetic, musical, and narrative—to remind us of what we have done and are doing, and who pays the greatest price. Armistice Day—if only. For a thoughtful essay on N.C. Wyeth's Homecoming, read Homer, Wyeth, Rockwell: Three Visions of Veterans.
Blog post alert: The archive of the now defunct blog for Firestone Library's Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University has a post on Color separation for Scribner's Magazine 1905. Anyone seriously interested in the techniques used would have to search further, but its a good quick look at how colored illustrations were produced for magazines at the turn of the 20th C—including this shopper by Walter Jack Duncan for H. G. Dwight's article, "An Impressionist's New York," in Scribner's (November 1905). And by the way, doesn't she add panache to a gloomy November day?
Blog post alert: Charley Parker's Eye Candy for Today: Louise Jopling domestic scene brought Louise Jane (née Goode) Jopling to my attention. She was an older contemporary of Jeanette's who studied art in Paris and became a suffragist. Just get this poem she wrote in my magical year of 1908!
Blog post alert: Here on All Souls' Day, a glance back at witches via Barbara Wells Sarudy's Hallowe'en post, About Those Female Witches - 1607 Jesuits Suspect Lutheran sect of Witchcraft. I first learned about dovecotes in relation to gardening history and became fond of them, while crones, witches, bats, dogs, and owls are longtime favorites. Inquisitional Jesuits? Not so much. I don't know how I'll use this (if at all) or what it may inspire, but I'm tickled to have run across it.