Where does a gaze in a painting come from? In this post, I’d like to share what Julyan Davis told me about working with the model for By Her Lily White Hand (On the Banks of the Ohio), 2012. When I emailed Mr. Davis, I asked, “When you asked the model to pose for the work, did […]

This is a Julyan Davis painting called By Her Lily White Hand (On the Banks of the Ohio), 2012. It’s one of Davis’s murder ballad paintings, a series of “narrative paintings, setting traditional Appalachian music against the contemporary South.” In the song “On the Banks of the Ohio,” a man asks his love to take a […]

As soon as there was photography, there were erotic photographs. I’ve written before about art historian Beatrice Farwell’s theory that Félix-Jacques-Antoine Moulin photographed Victorine Meurent in 1852. The date doesn’t fit with other information we have about Meurent, but the photos Farwell used to support her argument (found in the Bibliothèque nationale de France) still fascinate […]

I began serious research on Paris Red in 2005. But my interest in Victorine Meurent and my connection to the material began much earlier. In 1986, I had a conversation with a friend about Olympia. He was studying art history, and we fell into talking about the painting one day in the dining room of […]

I recently redid my website. In the last moments of finishing the design, I decided I wanted to add a line of text to my home page. At first I thought of saying, “When an artist meets his muse,” but when I typed it, something didn’t feel right to me. I’ve written before about how […]

W. W. Norton sent me the jacket image for Paris Red a while ago, but I saved writing about it until now. I know that things sometimes change while a book is in production, and I didn’t want to be hasty about posting the image. But l’ve loved the jacket design from the start. The […]

My main character in Paris Red is poor. When Victorine Meurent meets Manet, she’s working as a brunisseuse, or a silver burnisher, and she has very little money to live on. She eats as cheaply as she can, buying her meals on the streets, and many days she gets by on bread and soup—soupe aux […]