My Models Died Years Ago: Guest Post by Lisa Brown

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Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin


Today on the blog, I have the illustrator of Picture the Dead, Lisa Brown, and she’s here to talk about them. Without further ado, here’s Lisa….Yes! That’s an illustration of herself! :D (Check out my review HERE!)











ALMOST EVERY CHARACTER in Picture the Dead has a real-life 19th century counterpart, unearthed from the archives of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Here are some of my models and their correspondent illustrated selves.



Uncle Henry Pritchett. I drew him unaltered from his original photograph. Couldn’t improve upon perfection. I am especially pleased with the pattern I found for the background, however. All of the “wallpaper” patterns are made from actual Victorian designs that I mostly discovered in clip art Dover books.



Jennie Lovell, our indomitable heroine. I changed her hairstyle in later versions, after Adele described her hair as lush and curly. Her dress reminds me of the clothing in the “Sound of Music;” that is, made from old curtains.



Mavis, the little Irish maid. Her dress is much simpler than her employers’, no pattern or stylishly puffed sleeves. Note how she looks a bit frightened.



William Pritchett. The epitome of “dashing.” I’m fairly smitten with Will and his brother. Check out the wonderful Tumblr blog,, for more dead hotties. (Hahaha! That tumblr is awesome!! –Jess)



Quincy Pritchett, my absolute favorite. His original model is a bit too old for the part, so I regressed him to his teenaged self and removed his glasses. He gets even sexier, in my opinion, later on when he sports an eye patch. Arrrrrr!
(I must say, I completely agree! Totally had the hotts for Quinn :) – Jess)

And here a little side note regarding dear Aunt Clara. I honestly had trouble finding a model who was detestable enough to represent Clara in all her vile-ness. I was particularly keen to portray Adele’s incredible description of a “chin that wobbled like aspic.” Nobody during the Civil War era seemed to have such a chin. I tried concocting a composite from several existing portraits, but, in the end, I had to invent Clara out of whole cloth, sketching her out by hand. I gave her the requisite double chin, little girly ringlets, and an air of entitlement. Voila. Aunt Clara.


Here, at least, is an example of a model for her dress, expanded:


Thank you so much, Lisa!! I will now go stalk the My Daguerreotype Boyfriend tumblr. :P

What do you guys think of these awesome illustrations? Tell me about it in the comments!


Jess @ Gone with the Words

7 Responses to “My Models Died Years Ago: Guest Post by Lisa Brown”

  1. Avatar


    Oh my gosh, this was so much fun to read about! :) I love it.

    And I, too started stalking that Tumblr. My friend and I were just talking about it the other day!

  2. Avatar

    Lilly Bear

    This is kind of really wonderful. Lovely, lovely post. It’s so cool how her drawings come from real people of the past. I really, really, really want this book now!

  3. Avatar

    Peggy @ Pawing Through Books

    I tagged you!

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