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Picturing a World


When I was researching summer artists’ colonies and first saw those striped socks on Robert A. M. Stevenson in Will Hicok Low’s A Chronicle of Friendships p. 209, I badly wanted to base a character on him for one of the artists at Pont Aven. “Bob” Stevenson—like Low, a student of Carolus-Duran—was brilliant, playful, and hopelessly impractical. Somehow, I couldn’t find a place for him in my novel, nor even the socks; but I still enjoy reading about the artists’ colony at Grez-sur-Loing.

Do you see the woman reclining on the left? She looks to me as if she might be the artist Fanny Osbourne, who was in Grez in 1877. In 1880, she married Robert Louis Stevenson, Bob Stevenson’s more famous cousin, who also visited Grez. To read more about how the colony came about and who went there, see William H. Gerdts, “The American Artists in Grez,” in Out of Context: American Artists Abroad, Laura Rachel Felleman Fattal and Carol Salus, eds. (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004), pp. 33–67.

The Hôtel Chevillon is now operated by the Swedish Grez-sur-Loing Foundation to provide studios and apartments for writers, artists, composers, and scientists. The brief history at its website highlights the many Scandinavian artists who worked there.

For an illustrated French blog post on May Nieriker in Grez in 1877, click here.
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