Picturing a World
Ottilia Adelborg (1855–1936) is another of the Scandinavian female artists who was an almost exact contemporary of the real (and the fictional!) Jeanette. She studied at the Swedish Royal Academy at the same time Jeanette was in Paris and may have studied in France later herself. She became a children's book writer and illustrator. The English-language edition of her Clean Peter is available online.
She also illustrated other writer's books, such as The Wonderful Adventure of Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerlöf, for which this watercolor is a preliminary design. I haven't read the Lagerlöf book (which is available in a new translation), but this picture of a daydreaming boy and a tiny figure climbing out of the chest could suggest a story just by itself, don't you think? Or prompt a poem about the nature of imagination?
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?
How I wish I had known Interior of a Studio in Paris by Eva Bonnier when I was writing about Sonja at work in Where the Light Falls! I have seen 19th C photographs of sculptors' studios and their works-in-progress. Photographs are excellent sources for historical details and accuracy. But as David Hockney often reminds us, the camera does not see what the human eye sees. Oil painting, moreover, has a tenderness and tactility all its own—even in digital reproduction!
Eva Bonnier is new to me, a Swedish contemporary of the real Jeanette. You can read more about her and her place among the Scandinavian artists who studied in Paris in the well-illustrated article, The context of Anders Zorn's paintings in Sweden.
Blog post alert: Midsummer in Paintings: Midsummer Eve reproduces eight Scandinavian paintings of Midsummer's Eve celebrations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gorgeous—and very human in contrast to the Titania-Oberon folkloric associations that crop up in English-speaking traditions.
Krøyer's painting is included, but I have taken a higher resolution image from Krøyer's Final Masterpiece.
An article, Hilma af Klint: Swedish mystic hailed as the true pioneer of abstract art, in the Guardian calls attention to a new biography of and film about a woman artist who flourished in the early 20th C. She still astonishes today. At first sight, her work reminded me of Agnes Pelton's—and it came forty years earlier. If she is as new to you as she is to me, I recommend Hilma af Klint's Visionary Paintings, a review of the 2018 show at the Guggenheim by the late Peter Schjeldahl. As a quick introduction to her work, it is informative, well illustrated, and as always with Schjeldahl lively and engaging. Image via Open Culture post on the publication of the af Klint catalogue raisonné.
Websites for auction houses can be great sources for images to help writers as well as art historians or would-be buyers. In my pursuit of aids to visualizing a river bank with a bridge, I came across this one at Bonham's by one of my favorite Scandinavian Impressionists, Frits Thaulow. At the Bonham's link, you can zoom in on details. What interested me most was the ramshackle staircase on the left and the grass-and-flower-covered bank opposite a brick retaining wall.
Exhibition alert: Yesterday, for the first time since the 2020 lockdown, my husband and I went to a museum exhibition, namely Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts (through September 19, 2021). It had been scheduled for last summer and was the closing that disappointed me most after COVID hit. I was delighted therefore, when I learned that it would be delayed rather canceled, and I can assure you that it was worth the wait.
A tick bite has me on a prophylactic antibiotic, which in turn has side effects. Drat! But it's a good excuse to post this image of a convalescent by Helen Schjerfbeck, which I recently ran across in an article about the artist. Schjerfbeck was a splendid find for me at a show of Women Artists in Paris at the Clark. She's quite astonishing.
Convalescence was a common motif in late-19th C painting, but this one strikes me as particularly interesting because it doesn't stress piteousness. Instead it shows the child on the mend—a welcome motif during a pandemic. Or at the start of tick season. Stay well, everybody.