My Yuletide fic was one of the best things that happened all year. It was based on the painting above, Gérôme’s Suites d'un bal masqué (Duel after a Masquerade). Look at the use of colors, the individual characterization, the dull sky on the dirty snow. It’s a story painting, and Gérôme had a genius for telling his story subtly, without hitting the viewer over the head with “FEEL EMOTIONS NOW.”
My writer is also a genius. My writer took this painting and created eight original characters (including the two men in the distant background), then wrote eight different overlapping and conflicting narratives. The characterization is astonishing, the period and location detail are convincing without being overwhelming, and there’s a bibliography. I would not at all have been surprised to see this story in a printed anthology of best short stories of the year.
L'Abécédaire d'un duel Read it. it’s a jewel. Also read the gorgeous drabble “Gunpowder”, which in 100 well-chosen words gives a precisely-observed and vividly-written commentary on one detail of the painting.