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"Both art lovers and scholars will enjoy this heavily researched book. The narrative is suspenseful and sometimes even shocking. . . . Recommended."—Choice
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Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Auguste Rodin. The names of these brilliant nineteenth-century artists are known throughout the world. But what is remembered of their wives? What were these unknown women like? What roles did they play in the lives and the art of their famous husbands?
In this remarkable book of discovery, art historian Ruth Butler coaxes three shadowy women out of obscurity and introduces them for the first time as individuals. Through unprecedented research, Butler has been able to create portraits of Hortense Fiquet, Camille Doncieux, and Rose Beuret—the models, and later the wives, respectively, of Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin, three of the most famous French artists of their generation. The book tells the stories of three ordinary women who faced issues of a dramatically changing society as well as the challenges of life with a striving genius. Butler illuminates the ways in which these model-wives figured in their husbands’ achievements and provides new analyses of familiar works of art. Filled with captivating detail, the book recovers the lives of Hortense, Camille, and Rose, and recognizes with new insight how their unique relationships enriched the quality of their husbands’ artistic endeavors.
"Vividly brought to life. We come away with a fuller understanding of what it took to be a revolutionary painter or sculptor, and what it meant to be a woman, in late-19th-century France."—Ann Landi, ARTnews
— Ann Landi
"Masterfully researched. . . . As this book makes amply evident, these women''s lives, no matter how difficult, painful, or uncertain, were never boring. Butler has shown that the silent muse is a compelling subject in her own right."—Kate Christensen, Wilson Quarterly
— Kate Christensen
"This book is fascinating from start to finish. Butler has undertaken a daunting challenge in resurrecting the lives of three women who were virtually lost in the shadows of the men whose lives they shared, Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin. Her research opens doors into the problematic circumstances of women partnered with "genius."— June Hargrove, University of Maryland at College Park
“Ruth Butler has produced an astonishing book about a virtually unknown story within this overly rehearsed moment in art history. This is a monumental achievement.”—Paul Tucker, author of The Impressionists at Argenteuil and Monet in the 20th Century
“With gracious writing and scholarly thoroughness, Butler engages in a very personal search for Hortense, Camille and Rose and brings the three model-wives out of their dense obscurity.”—Wayne Andersen, author of Manet: The Picnic and the Prostitute
"Ruth Butler has an important story to tell—one that transfixes, with its portraits of the sometimes sad and always straitened lives of three great artists' muses, and transports, with its vivid scenes of atelier life in Paris and beyond. This is a book full of promise, packed with new research, new ideas and striking images, and with a brilliant future."—Megan Marshall, The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism