Historical Fiction about Women Painters
Chapter 1. Introduction
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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:
Even now as I write her [Victorine’s] name, she draws me into a state of wonder and reverie. She looks at me wistfully and brushes the hair from my face. She whispers in my ear and hints at marvelous discoveries. She smiles. Then, straightening up a bit she says, half tease, half entreaty, ‘Find me Eunice.’ How, Victorine? (42)
Lipton envisions Meurent as a woman who is anxious to be discovered because Meurent’s real identity is lost to art history. Meurent’s position as Manet’s model overshadowed her life and artistic output. In order to find Meurent, Lipton conducts extensive research into Meurent’s life and searches for clues that will allow her to “sketch a new picture” of Meurent, “anything that will ← 1 | 2 → distinguish [her] from the tragicomic...
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