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Picturing a World


In her 1930 autobiography, Background with Figures, Cecilia Beaux says that every artist in Paris had read Blanche Willis Howard’s novel Guenn: A Wave on the Breton Coast. Its main characters are artists who summer on the Breton coast and the local girl, Guenn, who poses for one of them. Naturally, for atmosphere and details of the artists’ practices, I read it as well as Beaux’s description of her summer spent at the artist’s colony in Pont Aven. To read Guenn on line, click here.

A special thank-you to a former neighbor, Jane Weber, who found a 25¢ copy of Background with Figures on a shelf of used books at an orchard in North Brookfield, Mass., and bought it for me. Good research habits are necessary for historical fiction, but so are friends and serendipity!
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