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Picturing a World

Abbéma's Bernhardt fan

A quick follow-up to Bernhardt and Japonisme. Here's a decorated fan painted by female artist Louise Abbéma portraying Sarah Bernhardt in a kimono. What better to inspire some detail or other for a new story set among women in Paris at the time of the 1889 Universal Exposition? For more about the vogue among Western artists for painting Asian-influenced fans, click here.
 
Image via Wikipedia Commons.

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Bernhardt and Japonisme

Sarah Bernhardt made a cameo appearance in Where the Light Falls, so now that I'm using Japonisme as a hook for thinking about a later return to Paris by Jeanette, what fun to find this picture of the Divine Sarah herself painting a model in a kimono!

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Japonisme in Fashion

Blog post alert: Japonisme in Fashion. The title says it all. The images range from artists' works to actual garments (including a gowns and cloaks by the House of Worth) to historical photos to this poster for Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado. And for a more scholarly article, be sure to consult Esther Sophia Sünderhauf's The Influence of Japonism on the Parisian Fashion Journals 1860-1900.

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Fanny Fleury

It's not hard to find 19thC depictions of women wearing kimonos painted by male artists—Monet, Stevens, Whistler, Chase. But what interests me as I think about how Japonisme might touch my character, Jeanette, is the extent to which female artists drew or painted them. Et voilà, in addition to Marie Danforth PageFanny Fleury! She even studied with Carolus-Duran.

 

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Combs

Blog post alert: The Origins of L'Art Nouveau: The Bing Empire is firing off all sorts of little explosions in my mind as Japonisme becomes my entry into a What-Came-Next for Jeanette. Take ornamental combs: Was there a connection between Japanese combs and pompadour hairstyles? No answer to that one yet, but a quick Google search led me to Historic Hair Accessories We Can't Stop Thinking About. It's worth a look just for the breadth and excellence of its images. For this particular comb, see also the object page at the V&A.

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Marie Danforth Page's Bookbinder

Following up on Christine Guth's book on The Great Wave, I'm looking into Western female artists, who depicted women wearing kimonos or other Japonisme-influenced garments. For instance, Marie Danforth Page! This picture of a craftswoman at the turn of the 20th C in a  gorgeous house-robe fits right into interweaving strands of inspiration for my fiction.  She even painted herself in a blue-and-white kimono.

Image via Wikipedia Commons.

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Blue Book of Nebo

Advertising poster (2021)

I have just completed a set of discussion questions for my public library's April book club selection, The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros (see below). I read it in a library copy, then bought my own to reread—along with The Seasoning, which I'm reading now with great satisfaction. To catch how you should hear her stories, listen to her reading aloud the opening of Nebo.

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Great Wave

How I wish I had known Camille Claudel's Bathers when I sent Jeanette, Amy, and Emily skinny-dipping in Where the Light Falls! It's only one of a hundred images and ideas to spark imagination in the wide-ranging Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon by Christine Guth. I began reading the book in conjunction with, Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence, an exhibition open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through July 16, 2023. I'm finding that it sends me back to Jeanette and Paris.

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Hats off!

Unique, or one of the Seven Basic Plots? An author I know who writes fantasy fiction worries perpetually about whether her plots and characters are original or clichéd. Well, it's hard to come up with a wholly new device or deep structure, but a delight to think how material can be worked and reworked and still exhilarate. In this case, one shape is used repeatedly in a tile design that never quite repeats itself. Explore the hat and think about just what satisfies the most—fundamental repetition or endless surface variation.

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New York women's art class

Exhibition alert: What a rich image this banner for New York Art Worlds, 1870–1890 is in and of itself! The student with the calipers at the bottom or the open book of bird illustrations at the right—they alone are enough to inspire stories. And you've got time to visit the show at the MetMuseum; it runs through July 24, 2024.

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