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Picturing a World

Margaret Macdonald Macintosh

When I wonder about an afterlife for my character Amy Richardson, I usually place her in the Glasgow Girls scene among fellow women artists. The most famous were Margaret Macdonald, who married Charles Rennie Macintosh, and her sister, Frances. I was reminded of one angle of Margaret's life in a recent review article about overlooked artistic wives. Charles Rennie Macintosh was and is certainly better known than Margaret, but he's the one who said "I have talent; she has genius."

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Alice and Martin Provensen

Cover, The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen (2021)

Alice and Martin Provensen were a devoted and charming married couple who were also both first-rate illustrators. They worked in tandem, mostly on children's books; and theirs was a true partnership of artistic equals. They never divulged which of them did what on their joint projects. After Marin died, Alice continued to produce imaginative books. The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is the first monograph on the pair. It's a delight, with essays, photographs like a scrapbook of theirs and their daughter's lives, and generous high-quality reproductions from their many, many books. To flip through it, click here.

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Narnia and a darker wood

Website alerts: Oh, my! Two things I love already, Narnia and book sculptures. And now, voilà: Instructions for making your own sculpture of Lucy's first visit to the lamppost, complete with PDF's of some of the elements. I'm not a crafter, but, I might just make up a story about someone who is.
 
For those who want to take such things to a professional level, moreover, Su Blackwell has a new book out, Into the Dark Woods, which comes with an booklet of instructions for making the sort of talismans she included to illustrate her retold fairy tales. Well worth mooning over.

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Snowdrop

My recent interest in book jackets led me to an excellent group biography, Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship. Eric Ravilious lived and worked among artists and designers many of whom had studied or taught at the Royal College of Art in the 1920's. Contemporaries of the Bloomsbury set, they were just as bohemian and just as dedicated to their work; but they were not so, well, self-important. One artist who didn't make it into the biography, or at least under the name Claudia Guercio, designed the cover and this illustration for Ariel Poem #20, A Snowdrop by Walter de la Mare.

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Bascove

One of the first jacket illustrators that I became aware of was Carol Bascove—though I didn't know she was a she. The attribution was always simply to Bascove. What I knew was that Robertson Davies' new novels were always immediately identifiable because of the jackets. The Lyre of Orpheus is on my shelf. And now, just as I've become interested in illustrative jacket design, the Norman Rockwell Museum is devoting an entire show to her work. You can catch BASCOVE: The Time We Spend with Words any time between now and June 5, 2022. Yea!

 

CORRECTION: The artist's name is ANNE (not Carol) BASCOVE!!!!!!!!!!

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Sybilla von Bondorff

Seeking diversion from the sorrows of war, I clicked on a British Library blog post on Medieval and Renaissance Women. What did it include? a medieval woman artist whose name is known! Sybilla von Bondorf. The post has a link to a manuscript she illustrated, and the British Library holds another from which this image of St. John composing the Book of Revelation comes.

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Ann Southeran's glass

Blog post alert and website links: Yea! Women continue to make gorgeous stained glass. Spitalfield Life's post on windows depicting champions made for an Oxford Street pub led me to artist Ann Southeran's website. A Google search then quickly turned up Stained Glass Ceilings: 5 Women Artists Working In Glass That You Should Know.

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Maria Yakunchikova

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.
 

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Sleeping with a dog

My husband drew my attention to an article, How our ancestors used to sleep, which included an image of this window. I already knew that people went to bed at sundown and generally slept in two nightly stages (I've come across the phrases "first sleep" and "second sleep" as early as Chaucer and as late as Emily Brontë). What interested me here were a dog sleeping on the beds with its people and stained glass.

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Margaret Rope's stained glass

Blog post alert: Margaret Rope's East End Saints at Spitalfield's Life calls attention to the work of stained-glass artist Margaret Rope, especially a series of windows she made for St. Augustine's Church off the Hackney Road in London in the 1930's. They depict miracles within settings of everyday life in the parish. Doesn't the world of stained-glass artistry beckon as a topic of exploration—and the possible setting for, what, a series of historical mystery stories?

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