Anna Nordgren—another Scandinavian female artist who studied first at the Académie Julian and then with Carolus-Duran! She was in Paris at just the time the real Jeanette or my fictional character could have known her. She even exhibited at the Salon of 1879, which plays a part in Where the Light Falls. If I had known Lady in a Train Window when I was first researching the novel, I wonder how it might have shaped my imagination?
Picturing a World
This striking double portrait caught my attention mostly because it's beautiful, but I lingered over it because it falls in the period of my work-in-very-slow-progress, "Anonymity." I checked, and, sure enough, Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862–1938) was an almost exact of the real Jeanette Smith whose story prompted my delve into the experience of women art students in Paris. (Surprise, surprise! Tarbell also studied at the Académie Julian.)
Blog post alert: James Gurney's technical comments on Vasily Polenov's watercolor of a 19th C woman artist at work are interesting. But a correction: the subject is not N. Yakunchikova. Rather she is Maria Yakunchikova whose sister Elena (also an artist) married Polenov in the year this portrait was painted. Maria studied for a year at the Académie Julian with under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury (as does my fictional Jeanette). For more of Maria's work, click here. And for an article about her at Musings on Art, A Platform for Women Artists, click here.
Blog tip: Ordinarily, I like to showcase female artists, but this painting of a contemplative woman reader is so lovely, I refer you to the post on it at Lines and Colors. The artist, William McGregor Paxton (1869–1941), is yet another American who studied at the Académie Julian in Paris—and he, not only had the good taste to marry Elizabeth Vaughan Okie, but worked with her as part of the Boston School of painters. She may have posed for this picture. (And my fictional Mattie might have seen it!)
In the latter 19th C, polite society considered it a sign of shocking Bohemianism for women to smoke. Now we might not worry about the sitter’s morals, only her health. When Amélie Beaury-Saurel painted this picture, however, she probably meant it as Read More
How I am looking forward to the upcoming exhibit, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 at the Clark Art Institute! I am fond of saying that writing historical fiction forces a novelist to ask different questions from those of historians, even cultural historians. For instance, where did a woman Read More
Correction: Thanks to a reader, Daisy, I am happy (but embarrassed) to correct a blooper: Azambre was male, not female. Luckily I didn't say anything stupid about "the female gaze" in this post; and the suggestion that the religious wing of commercial art might be useful to fiction stands. Thanks again, Daisy!
At a lecture in advance of the Clark Art Institute’s upcoming show, Women Artists in Paris, 1850–1900 (June 9–Spetember 3, 2018) I learned about this painting by Étienne Azambre (1859–1933). Azambre was an almost exact contemporary of the real Jeanette and studied at the Académie Julian from 1879 to 1882 in the studio of Adolphe William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury, where I place my fictional Jeanette. Wish I had known about her in time! Read More