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Picturing a World

Marie-Victoire Jaquotot

Marie-Victoire Jacquetot, the artist who was commissioned by Napoleon to paint a Sèvres tea service for Empress Josephine Bonaparte, came to my attention recently when that very tea service was acquired by the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. Much of what I could find about the artist comes in Marie-Victoire Jaquotot (1772-1855), « premier peintre sur porcelaine du roi » Louis XVIII, a post (in French). Luckily for those who don't read the language, the post has many illustrations, including enlarged details of this self-portrait and a picture of the set acquired by the Clark.

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Zinaida Serebriakova

Website alert: Zinaida Serebriakova (1884–1967) was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine; studied art in St. Petersburg; and was active in France. Oh, that we all could be international in our outlook! Wikiart has a gallery of 415 of her works, including one I love for its subject and tonalities, In the Studio Braz.France (1906).

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Margit Selska

Blog post alert: I plead being as ignorant of Ukrainian artists as the next person, but a post, Women in Ukrainian Art: Blank Spots in Ukrainian Art History at the Wilson Center's Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine, has given me a way to begin learning about them. In this case Marit Selska (1903–1980). She was born in Lyiv; studied in Cracow, Vienna, and Paris; escaped the Holocaust (though most of her family perished); and had a productive career after WWII. I chose this image for its blue and yellow Ukrainian colors and for the thoughtful introspection on the subject's face. Would that the choice of a hat and personal stories were all that Ukrainians—and the world—had to worry about today!

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Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach

Couldn't this image prompt a story about being a female student in Paris early in the 20th C? The Japanese print on the wall. The young woman's serious expression. A pen ready to take notes. The coat worn indoors against the cold (when I was a student in Aix-en-Provence, we had heat from a stove for only two hours a day). A jug of flowers—always remember: tuppence a week for beauty. Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach is new to me and maybe not a major find; but both she and her student are reminders that, yes, art and literature and learning matter. For more of her work, click here.

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Bring-backs and takeaways

Okay, now I'm even closer to finishing a problematic short story than I was earlier this month when I wrote Out of the Woods. What has given me new energy to get to "The End" is a new question: What does the main character bring back?

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Miereke Nelissen’s Oz

Just as appealing as Miereke Nelissen's animals are her illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—or more precisely for De tovenaar van Oz. Lisabeth Zwerger's version may have influenced Nelissen. Certainly Zwerger made clear that a modern sensibility can work wonders divorced from more traditional variations on W. W. Denslow's first-edition illustrations (see, for example, those of Scott Gustafson and Michael Hague and 25 more).

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Necessary readers

Well, I've sent the manuscript of my fantasy novel to four writer friends. I expect encouragement (after all, they are my friends). What I hope for are probing questions, comments, and criticisms to guide me toward strengthening the story.
 
Of course, it's asking a big favor to request someone to read the manuscript for a whole novel, especially a first draft. Sometimes we're reluctant to make such a demand even for a shorter piece, especially since work never seems to live up to the excitement of first inspiration. That's where writing buddies come in: we read each other's work because we know that putting it out there is a necessary part of living in the arts. It's important to friendship, moreover, to keep up with what matters most to people dear to us. That's one reason I love this picture by Catherine Chaloux.

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Lucretia in a frame

Blog post alert: The History Blog's post on the Getty acquires rediscovered Artemisia Gentileschi Lucretia reports on the recent sale of this painting at auction for $5.3 million. Women painters, the historical injustice of attitudes toward rape victims, and the mysteries of the art market are all serious subjects unto themselves. But what caught my eye was—the frame!

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Tiny gallery

Website alert: A Guardian article, Honey, they shrunk the art … top artists create works for tiny gallery features this abstract painting by Fiona Rae. Hurrah! She's new to me, and the project by the Pallant House Gallery is delicious to anyone who loves scale-model miniatures—including, of course, Queen Mary's Dollshouse, which was part inspiration for the current project.

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Sija Hong and dragons

Serendipity delivers again. No sooner had I read Maria Dahvana Headley's exhilarating new translation of Beowulf, with its dragon fight, when up pops this splendid illustration of a different one by Sija Hong in Monstrous Tales: Stories of Strange Creatures and Fearsome Beasts from Around the World (2020). According to her website, the artist is "is a Chinese award-winning illustrator based in New York City." She is wholly new to me, and very appealing. Check out her website for more of her work. (Yeah, and, bro/sis, check out Beowulf, too.)

 

Via Lines and Colors.

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