This week marks the release of my latest historical romance, A Sinful Deception, and as promised, I'm going to be writing several posts featuring the background for the book.
Paintings are a major influence on my writing. The German painter Johann Zoffany (1733-1810) is best known today for his portraits of the British royal family, but he also traveled to India and created a number of fascinating paintings that document Georgian life in that farthest corner of the Empire. This was not the later India of Kipling, and interaction between the English and Indians was much less rigid.
The two girls with a cat, above left, are a detail of a larger family group, and I thought of it often while writing about my heroine and her half-sister, both born in India. The girl on the left is shown not only in fashionable clothing that follows London styles, but her pose, with one leg crossed, is a favorite in elegant English portraiture. In sharp contrast is the girl on the right, most likely a servant, whose posture is more straightforward, and her clothes likely much more comfortable, too.
The unfinished group portrait, lower left, shows English Major William Palmer of the Bengal Artillery with his jewel-covered wife, Bibi Faiz Bakhsh Begum, their children, and other members of their family. His pride and devotion are clear, standing protectively over the little group, and another inspiration for my heroine's father and his extended household.
Above left: Detail, Colonel Blair and his Family with an Indian Ayah, by Johann Zoffany, 1786, The Tate. Bottom left: Detail, The Palmer Family, by Johann Zoffany, 1785, The British Library. For much more about The Palmer Family painting, please see the British Library's blog post here.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.