icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Artists' dust jackets

While I was Buchaning around the web recently, Rockwell Kent's art for Mountain Meadow landed me in The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920–1970 by Martin Salisbury. I borrowed a copy from the library. As soon as I opened it, I was bowled over by the feel of its paper, the beauty of its page design, the clarity of its reproductions—not to mention the quality of the jacket designs it reproduces.

 Read More 

Be the first to comment

Medieval woman rides astride

Not much point to posting this image from the bottom of a medieval Book of Hours, except that it's interesting to see a 14thC woman depicted riding astride. I'll add that I like the quizzical look on her face, the big-headed horse who seems to have thoughts of his own, and the preening merlin (the hunting hawk appropriate for a lady). Make of it what you will!

Be the first to comment

Mountain Meadow (or Sick Heart River)

I have just finished my third reading of Sick Heart River by John Buchan, published as Mountain Meadow in America (always read it in winter!). The first time through, I thought it was one of the strangest and oddly powerful novels I'd ever encountered. I still do. The second time, I looked forward with relish to its strong evocations of bitter cold and the harsh beauty of the Canadian wilderness. It delivered. This third reading brought out for me its structure and a consequent narrative technique.

 Read More 

Be the first to comment

Berkshires in the snow

How have we fared in the nor'easter, you ask? Not bad here in the Berkshires, a few inches of snow. It's windy and cold (6°), but sunshine predicted for tomorrow.

Be the first to comment

Snowstorm

A nor'easter predicted for the East Coast this weekend makes a 16th C image of a snowstorm in MIlan snow timely. It's supposed to be grim, but isn't it lovely? The Augsburger Book of Miracles in which it appears records that "in the year A.D. 1162 snow fell twelve times in succession upon Milan, so that the people fell into despair and no one was able to go and see anyone else." (Sounds like the effect of the pandemic, too!) Well, I'm stocked up on groceries and have begun rereading The Idea of North by Peter Davidson. Good luck to any of you caught in the worst of the storm!

Be the first to comment

Deep Secret

Charles Vess, cover sketch, Deep Secret (ca. 2001)

I have just reread Diana Wynne Jones's Deep Secret in the 2002 paperback edition with Charles Vess's perfect cover (a favorite author, favorite illustrator). What fun, then, to find this preliminary sketch with Vess's notation, "Irene—I like this idea: the hotel lobby w/ s/f con people (as well as our principle [sic] characters) checking in as Rob the centaur bursts from air. This is a pure white background w/ design elements a la Saturday Evening Post. Charles"

 Read More 

Be the first to comment

Roman glass bowl

Blog post alert: As if to prove yesterday's point that colored glass might prove a vector into historical fiction (or simply an object of admiration), up pops the discovery of a pristine n eighteen-hundred-year-old Roman bowl. Cool.

Be the first to comment

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.

 Read More 

Be the first to comment

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.
 

Be the first to comment

Medieval mice take the castle!

The solid black silhouette startled me first when I saw a stick figure in a 14th C bas-de-page illustration. I can't remember ever seeing anything like it in a medieval manuscript. Then I realized it was a mouse. A mouse with a catapult! A mouse attacking a castle! A castle held by a cat? Turn the page and there's more. It's really like a cartoon strip running along the bottom of eight pages of this 14th Book of Hours. The sense of humor is recognizable from the period; so is a narrative sequence in these decorations. But those black mice! Something for fantasy or historical fiction, for doggerel verse or a children's book (provided, I suppose, that you brought the cat back to life), or, for that matter, a little serious historical research.
 

Be the first to comment