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."
Picturing a World
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.
I'm reading The Fairest of Them All by Maria Tater (2020), and naturally the first thing I did was look at all the pictures. The blue-and-white vase in this one caught my eye because I have a friend who is an expert on blue-and-white china. It amuses us both to come across it in odd contexts—in this case, a picture of Snow White's stepmother by Katharine Cameron from Louey Chisholm's In Fairyland (1904). That date for a children's book puts it squarely in my character Mattie's world, and Cameron just might be someone for Amy Richardson to know if I decide to follow Amy's story.
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!)
I love it when (a) I find a new woman artist; (b) a picture widens my imaginary world; or (c) there's an overlap between my stories via an illustration. This etching by Mary Nimmo Moran shows me a possibility in the New York City that Jeanette visits when she goes to her Aunt Maude in Where the Light Falls. Since it seems to be up a hill, it may also illustrate a view Mattie might have up in Morningside Heights in "Anonymity"—although by 1908, the farm would likely have vanished. Best of all, I have learned that Mary Nimmo Moran was a female artist who was actually encouraged in her work by the artist husband who had been her teacher. Three cheers!
Website tip: Is it one of Jeanette’s Portraits without People or simply a painting of an interior? Either way, it’s a pleasure to be introduced to Mary Dawson Holmes Elwell—an artist who married a man twice her age, had a happy marriage (he supported her art), and after his death married the artist Frederick Elwell. Read all about it here.
Via Lines and Colors. Read More
It has to be said of Félix Bracquemond, that although he was a domestic tyrant who stymied his wife’s career in the end, he also taught her well. Best known now for his etchings, he taught her printmaking techniques which she put to exquisite use as in this portrait of her sister, Louise Quivoron. There is no reason to deny that men have cramped women’s careers, but it might be an interesting challenge to write a novel about a marriage that simultaneously expands a woman’s capacities while constraining her ability to pursue an independent career. And what would her sister be like? What would be her role? Read More
At last! A woman artist who was not squelched by her husband, but treated as an equal. This painting depicts Anna Ancher and her husband, Michael Ancher, thoughtfully absorbed in critiquing a canvas together. Read More