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Picturing a World

Florence Ada Fuller

Here in the Berkshires, as the days shorten, we face cold rain and a first frost, which certainly means a book beside the fire appeals! Florence Ada Fuller was an Australian artist, a slightly younger contemporary of the real Jeanette Smith. Like my fictional Jeanette Palmer, she studied at the Académie Julian with William-Adolphe Bouguereau. I didn't know of her until I ran across a post at My Daily Art Display. It's always a pleasure to discover a new artist, and Fuller is a reminder that Australia is a whole continent to explore. Where to start? How about Australian Impressionism?

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Carolus-Duran carte-de-visite

Maybe while New York is under a ghastly orange haze, it's wrong the wrong time to post a sepia photograph; but I got such a kick out running across this carte-de-visite , that I can't resist. According to the seller, the picture was taken in 1865 even though the card commemorates Carolus-Duran's winning of a silver medal at the World's Fair of 1878. And doesn't he look young and handsome! For Ferdinand Mulnier's sensitive portrait of Jeanette's other teacher, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, click here. For many more of Mulnier's photographs, click here.

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Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr

A painting of Nymphs and Satyrs by William Adolphe Bouguereau lies in one of the oddball overlaps between my research for ANONYMITY and Where the Light Falls. In the published novel, Bouguereau is Jeanette’s teacher at the Académie Julian, and I saw his painting often when I visited the galleries while working in the library at The Clark. What you see here, however,  Read More 
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Salon jury

In 1878–1880, the period of Where the Light Falls, submissions to the annual Salon were judged by an elected jury of artists. Anyone whose work had been accepted for previous Salons could vote, and the jurors were generally the most distinguished (and most conservative) artists of their day. Serving was an honor, but  Read More 
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Class critique

I recently came across this picture by Albert Guillaume. William Adolphe Bouguereau criticizing student work in Jeanette’s class at the Académie Julian? Not quite, but mighty close! It appears in the January 14, 1905, issue of the French weekly, L’Illustration, accompanying the magazine’s review of a play, La Massière by Jules Lemaître. Read More 
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Jeanette Palmer is fictional; but one of the masters at the Académie Julian, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, fostered the career of a real American woman, Elizabeth Jane Gardner, whom eventually he married as his second wife. Click here for his portrait of her, which was also painted in 1879.

Is it my imagination, or does his self-portrait reveal a sadness and sensitivity unexpected in a painter of marzipan nudes and sentimental children? In any case, besides using him to dramatize the teaching methods employed at the time, I wanted the novel to portray the esteem with which he was held by his students. The touch of red on his collar is the much-coveted badge indicating membership in the Legion of Honor. Read More 
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