A picture is not only worth a thousand words: It can even turn into a whole novel. Independent art historian Heidi Applegate explores the artists and paintings that inspired three works of art-focused historical fiction. Gain new perspectives on Leonardo da Vinci, Judith Leyster, and Camille Pissarro by delving into the novels followed by Applegate’s examination of the factual background along with the fiction. This is a “novel” way to explore the arts.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.
June 16 Laura Morelli, The Night Portrait, 2020
The Night Portrait tells the parallel stories of Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of the Duke of Milan, who commissioned Leonardo Da Vinci to paint her portrait around 1490, and of Edith Becker, a young paintings conservator in Munich during WWII, who is determined to return the portrait of Gallerani to its rightful owner after it is looted by the Nazis.
July 21 Carrie Callaghan, A Light of Her Own, 2018
Judith Leyster is beginning to establish her own studio in Haarlem in the early 1660s, when a scarcity of linseed oil adds to the challenges of becoming a successful painter in a male-dominated art world. Paintings drive the plot, including Leyster's Self Portrait, which secured her admittance as the first woman to become a member of the Haarlem Painters' Guild. Works by Fans Hals, Rembrandt, and Dutch landscapes provide further context for the novel.
September 8 Alice Hoffman, The Marriage of Opposites, 2015
A family saga spanning the 19th century, The Marriage of Opposites tells the story of Camille Pissarro’s mother and the impact her life had on his career. As a study in contrast between the limitations placed on women, the freedom enjoyed by men, and the brilliant heat of the Caribbean versus a drab, cold winter in Paris, Hoffman has created a world in which color is a central character. Applegate recreates the story through Pissarro's paintings and gives additional historical context to the events that shaped the family's lives.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit per program*
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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.