From Publishers Weekly
Had they been literate, any of this book's three subjects-wives to the founders of French Impressionism-could have penned fascinating memoirs; as professor and author Butler (Rodin: The Shape of Genius) explains in her introduction, "we know almost nothing in a direct way from Hortense, Camille, or Rose," and that therefore her book "depends both on fact and imagination." Providing a sketch of their lives, Butler takes readers to Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, where the women lived on extremely limited means, married to men whose only true love was their art. Hortense Fiquet and Camille Doncieux, the wives of Cezanne and Monet respectively, modeled for some of the artists' most well-known paintings and bore their first children, yet receive little mention in most biographies. Rose Beuret is more well-known, but only because Rodin was slightly more open about their relationship. Beuret acted as Rodin's model and his assistant, and watched over a studio "full of sculpture" in his absence, "mostly works of clay needing constant attention." Looking beyond their work, Butler considers the human side of these artistic giants through the foggy lens of their most dedicated subjects.
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"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
"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 ARTnews
"Judicious, exhaustively researched, and gracefully written."—The Atlantic Monthly
"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 Wilson Quarterly
"Both art lovers and scholars will enjoy this heavily researched book. The narrative is suspenseful and sometimes even shocking. . . . Recommended."—Choice