Writers and Artists in Dialogue

Historical Fiction about Women Painters

by Cortney Cronberg Barko (Author)
©2016 Monographs 138 Pages


This unique work of scholarship explores contemporary issues of male spectatorship and the importance of biography for art criticism in the work of Tracy Chevalier, Eunice Lipton, Anna Banti, Kate Braverman, and Susan Vreeland. Drawing upon feminist concepts on the male and female gaze, Dr. Cortney Cronberg Barko perceptively examines how these authors challenge androcentric models of reading by demonstrating women’s powers as readers and writers. This intriguing study reveals that authors working within the genre of fictionalized biographies of women painters reconstruct art history to create a new canon for women artists and invent a rhetoric about art that empowers women. This book is ideal for art history courses and a wide range of literature courses, including fiction, literary theory, literary criticism, feminist literary theory, and women's literature.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Tracy Chevalier and Eunice Lipton’s Female Gaze: New Narratives about Women Painters
  • Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring
  • Eunice Lipton’s Alias Olympia: A Woman’s Search for Manet’s Notorious Model and Her Own Desire
  • Chapter 3. Interpreting the Paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi: Biography as Feminist Art Criticism
  • Chapter 4. The Inseparability of Frida Kahlo’s Life and Art: The Importance of Biography for Feminist Art Criticism
  • Chapter 5. Susan Vreeland’s Emily Carr: Inventing a New Rhetoric About Art for Women
  • Chapter 6. Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
  • Series index

← vi | vii →


Figure 1.   Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). Girl with a Pearl Earring, c.1665. Oil on canvas. Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Figure 2.   Edouard Manet (1832–1883). Olympia, 1863. Oil on canvas. Museo d’Orsay, Paris.

Figure 3.   Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652/1653). Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting. c. 1638–1639. Oil on canvas. Collection Her Majesty the Queen, Kensington Palace, London.

Figure 4.   Emily Carr (1871–1945). Totem Walk, Sitka, 1907. Watercolor. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria.

Figure 5.   Emily Carr (1871–1945). The Crying Totem, 1928. Oil on canvas. Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.

Figure 6.   Emily Carr (1871–1945). The Red Cedar, 1933. Oil. Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.

Figure 7.   Chitra Ganesh (1975–present). Tales of Amnesia, detail (Godzilla). 2002–2007. Saatchi Gallery: London Contemporary Art Gallery. ← vii | viii →

← viii | 1 →

· 1 ·


The dialogue of the woman artist with her society; the writer’s dialogue with the painter…and, more broadly fiction’s dialogue with painting are unfinished stories no matter what sort of closure the novelist may attempt to put upon them.

Roberta White, A Studio of One’s Own (31)

In Alias Olympia: A Woman’s Search for Manet’s Notorious Model and Her Own Desire, art historian Eunice Lipton describes her search for details about the life of Victorine Meurent, an artist in her own right and the subject of Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863). As Lipton sets out on her quest, she engages in a dialogue with Meurent:


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (December)
Anna Bani Braverman Vreeland Biographies
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 138 pp.

Biographical notes

Cortney Cronberg Barko (Author)

Cortney Cronberg Barko received her Ph.D. in English from Northern Illinois University. She also holds graduate certificates in women’s studies and museum studies. Her areas of specialization are twentieth-century American literature, women’s studies and feminist theory. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery, where she teaches courses in composition, literature, and editing. Dr. Barko is the author of «Rediscovering Female Voice and Authority: The Revival of Female Artists in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles» published in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. She is also the Vice President/President Elect of the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.


Title: Writers and Artists in Dialogue
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149 pages