Renoir's Dancer

Renoir's Dancer

The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon

Book - 2018
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Baker & Taylor
Describes how the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished linen maid in rural France became a famous model for Renoir and other impressionists of the era and was also a talented artist herself who refused to be confined by gender or tradition.

McMillan Palgrave

Catherine Hewitt's richly told biography of Suzanne Valadon, the illegitimate daughter of a provincial linen maid who became famous as a model for the Impressionists and later as a painter in her own right.

In the 1880s, Suzanne Valadon was considered the Impressionists’ most beautiful model. But behind her captivating façade lay a closely-guarded secret.

Suzanne was born into poverty in rural France, before her mother fled the provinces, taking her to Montmartre. There, as a teenager Suzanne began posing for—and having affairs with—some of the age’s most renowned painters. Then Renoir caught her indulging in a passion she had been trying to conceal: the model was herself a talented artist.

Some found her vibrant still lifes and frank portraits as shocking as her bohemian lifestyle. At eighteen, she gave birth to an illegitimate child, future painter Maurice Utrillo. But her friends Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas could see her skill. Rebellious and opinionated, she refused to be confined by tradition or gender, and in 1894, her work was accepted to the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, an extraordinary achievement for a working-class woman with no formal art training.

Renoir’s Dancer tells the remarkable tale of an ambitious, headstrong woman fighting to find a professional voice in a male-dominated world.

& Taylor

Reveals the life of Suzanne Valadon, the illegitimate daughter of a provincial linen maid who became a famous model for Impressionists, before her own artistic talents were revealed.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2018
Edition: First U.S. edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781250157652
Branch Call Number: B VALADON 2018
Characteristics: viii, 470 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Apr 11, 2018

I continued this read because of the fascination with Valadon's life, which was secret but not secret and I appreciated the play on the word in the title. It started off very academic and was difficult to get into, however persisting it got better and read like an academic work or journalism story. Quite long, but a good introduction to someone that I had never heard of before. Loved the cover, color scheming, and the feel of the pages beneath my fingers; the imagery and detail were delightful to peruse. Great recommendation from Chapel Hill library staff and email of historical biographies! Library science at it's best!


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