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Picturing a World

Life drawing, 1809

Website tip: Today's post of images from Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin's Microcosm of London at the always interesting blog, Spitalsfield Life, is a dandy for historical fiction novelists and fans of Georgian England. And I love the way this plate shows early 19th C lighting for a life class. Read More 
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Carolus-Duran (4)

Readers of this blog know that I'm always on the lookout for pictures that illustrate Where the Light Falls. Jeanette specially notices the size of Carolus-Duran's palette when she first see him painting Cornelia Renick's portrait—et voilà!
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Studio party

This engraving of Gunnar Berndston's depiction of a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper appears in The Illustrated Catalogue of the Paris Salon for 1882. Such an engraved image might seem inadequate to eyes accustomed to photographic reproduction, yet turning the pages of the Salon catalogues in the research library of The Clark was a wonderful way to grasp the scope of the annual exhibitions. To see what I mean, click here for the next year's catalogue

In the 1882 catalogue, a few pictures seemed to leap out illustratively for Where the Light Falls. This one reminded me of Read More 
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A Tenth Street studio

Does the romantic ideal of the impoverished artist, unappreciated yet dedicated to the authenticity of his vision, survive into the commercialized 21st C? Its heyday may have been the 19th C, yet the 19th C also saw artists striving to be taken seriously as professionals. When William Merritt Chase painted his studio at the Tenth Street Studio Building, he wanted the viewer to recognize the opulence of his furnishings. An 1880 photograph shows the same chest and many props, framed pictures, mounted fans, etc.  Read More 
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Carolus-Duran’s studio in L’Illustration

Article tip: Wondering how many digitized images from the 19th French weekly, L’Illustration, are now easily available on the web, I Googled its title plus “Carolus-Duran” and up popped scholar Rachel Esner’s well-illustrated article about the magazine’s depiction of artists’ studios in the 19th C. To read it, click here. L'Illustration's fee-for-use archive can be accessed through its home pageRead More 
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Studio party

Trilby, a novel about art students in Paris by author and illustrator George du Maurier, was one of my richest sources for details and ambiance. This illustration contributed to  Read More 
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Painting Edward’s portrait

This painting by Jeanna Bauck (1840-1926) depicts a fancier, better equipped studio than Jeanette’s, but you can imagine my excitement when I found it last year—the right era, a woman assiduously painting a portrait of a sober-faced older man. 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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Countess de V—

The quality of this photograph of Carolus-Duran’s Portrait de Mme. la Comtesse de V[andal] may seem poor, but I was thrilled to find it among montages of other works bought by the French government at the 1879 Salon. As those of you who do historical or genealogical research know, a digital image of primary materials is almost as exciting as physical objects that can be picked up. (If you have a story of such a find, tell us in a comment below!)

Admittedly, a digital reproduction of a photograph of a painting is tertiary evidence at best, but knowing that the French government took such pains in documenting its purchases demonstrated art’s importance in official policy. Governmental encouragement contributed to the sense of art students like Jeanette that Paris was the best possible place for them to be. Read More 
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Carolus-Duran (2)

Although I did not try to dramatize a scene in which either Carolus-Duran or John Singer Sargent played a keyboard instrument, it was tempting, for both were superb musicians. Carolus's organ was notable among the many props and objets d'art in his studio. Sometimes he played it to distract restless children who sat  Read More 
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