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Picturing a World

Harlequin doggy bags

The reward of blog-crawling on a rainy day was a post on "Harlequin Foods" at Victorian Paris. I knew that "pot-luck" soups were sold by street vendors to the poor, but get this: There was an entire trade in leftovers or rogatons from the kitchens of palaces, noble houses, fine hotels, embassies, and so on. The cook or the footman sold them to a vendor or reseller who came to the back door, and they began a journey of sorting and distribution until they reached a stall in Les Halles, where they might end up on a patchwork plate of mixed scraps more or less artfully arranged. In that form, they were called arlequins, probably because their patchwork appearance resembled the costume of the Commedia dell'arte character, Harlequin.

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Van Gogh’s Montmartre

I hate what Sotheby's did to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts; but news that the auction house will be selling this remarkable painting, Scène de rue à Montmartre (Impasse des Deux Frères et le Moulin à Poivre) by Vincent van Gogh is just too interesting to pass over. It has been in a private family, so at least its sale will not damage a museum. And if you go to the Sotheby's page, you'll be able to enlarge the image and get the impact of van Gogh's brush work. It conveys better than any painting I've ever seen before the ramshackle nature of Montmartre and its windmills.

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Cluny interior

This week, an astonishingly acute reader notified me that I had got Quilliard's name wrong when I mentioned this  watercolor in a 2013 blog post. The old link no longer works anyway, so I'm delighted to post the image itself with a stable museum link. I used this watercolor to help imagine Jeanette's week at the Cluny in Where the Light Falls. Lovely to see it again! How I wish the novel could have been illustrated by an artist who took inspiration from such 19th C paintings.

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Herminie Waternau’s Paris

Blog post alert: Herminie Waternau (1862–1913) would be an almost exact contemporary of my character Jeanette in Where the Light Falls. Her courtyard study shown here was made in 1908, the year in which my work-in-(very slow)-progress about Jeanette's sister Mattie is set. You can understand why I was fascinated to learn about her this morning! Four of her Parisian pictures illustrate James Gurney's post on 100,000 high-resolution images newly released by Paris museums. Check out Gurney, check out Waternau's Paris.

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Louis Béroud, copyist

Blog alert: A post at Lines and Colors on Louis Béroud has images of copyists in the Louvre, scenes of Parisian life, and an anecdote about the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911.

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Nôtre-Dame de Paris

How many million (billion?) images of Nôtre-Dame de Paris have been posted in the last forty-eight hours? There can't be too many.

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Monet’s Gare Saint-Lazare

A tip from James Gurney on the release of high-resolution images by the Chicago Art Institute led me back to this 1877 painting by Monet. It was in my mind when I wrote Jeanette and Effie’s arrival in  Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (2): Place

One way a book can make you happy is to transport you from your armchair to someplace else altogether. It helps, of course, for the place to be somewhere you’d like to visit (exposés need not apply). From Prevention’s list of 55 happy books, I’ll point to Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon as books that make you adore being in France. Read More 

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Passage des Panoramas

Blog tip: For some great photographs and the sound of a voice echoing in the Passage des Panoramas, where Jeanette finds the Académie Julian, visit the Soundlandescapes' Blog for May 16!
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Béraud at Les Halles

While cleaning up my writing room this week, I found a slip of paper in a box of old research for Where the Light Falls. It noted that a painting of Les Halles by Jean Béraud was shown at the 1879 Salon (at which Jeanette exhibits) and was now at the Haggin  Read More 
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