Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon

Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon

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 in...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon
Author:Catherine Hewitt
Rating:

Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon Reviews

  • Chris

    Anyone who picks up this book expecting a book-length exposé on Renoir’s relationship with one of his favorite models, along with gossipy revelations about Suzanne’s Valadon’s life, is in for a bit of a disappointment.

    Yes, part of

    chapter does explore in great depth that relationship, which proved to be an early pivotal moment in setting Suzanne Valadon on her artistic career path. And yes, the author, Catherine Hewitt, does

    Anyone who picks up this book expecting a book-length exposé on Renoir’s relationship with one of his favorite models, along with gossipy revelations about Suzanne’s Valadon’s life, is in for a bit of a disappointment.

    Yes, part of

    chapter does explore in great depth that relationship, which proved to be an early pivotal moment in setting Suzanne Valadon on her artistic career path. And yes, the author, Catherine Hewitt, does address the gossip and rumors that swirled around Valadon’s relationships with many of the artists she modeled for. But those activities are really not the point of this book, as the title and cover may lead you to believe.

    So what is the point of this book? It’s to provide a comprehensive, engaging, well-researched, scholarly study of Suzanne Valadon. It’s to elevate the modern readers’ understanding and appreciation of an often-overlooked avant-garde artist who defied categorization, who stuck to her guns in representing the truth as she saw it, and who happened to be female.

    Suzanne Valadon was in fact the first French female artist that came from the peasant class to earn a living creating fine art and become internationally renowned in the process (i.e., she was so much more than “Renoir’s dancer”). Yet, at the same time, she resisted being labeled a “female artist” and only sought the recognition that any male artist in her position would’ve so easily come by, as explained in this book.

    By tracing the artist’s life from her family’s provincial beginnings, through her work as a model during one of the most exciting periods of French painting, her active engagement in and contributions to Montmartre’s bohemian culture, her relationships with both the French artworld’s elite and its more eccentric characters, her family relationships, and her own artistic explorations, this book provides a complete picture of Suzanne Valadon as a person and as an artist.

    Hewitt explains the genesis and development of Valadon’s artistic output and offers insightful interpretations of individual works by adeptly placing them within their appropriate cultural, social, and biographical contexts. I commend the author for achieving, in my view, the perfect balance between background material (social history), biographical accounts of Valadon’s personal life, and discussions of the artworks, which never get tedious.

    Though this book is quite scholarly (extensive source citations and bibliography are provided), there is never a dull moment, whether the author is describing Montmartre’s fin-de-siècle nightlife, Paris during wartime, or Valadon’s challenging relationship with her alcoholic son, the famous French painter Maurice Utrillo. Much of that is due to just how interesting a character Valadon was and the times she lived in were—all brought to life in this book’s pages.

    In our post-truth world, I found it refreshing that the author stuck to presenting the facts rather than speculating and insisting on interpretations of certain events in Valadon’s life as told by competing accounts. I also appreciated that the life of an important female artist wasn’t used as a pretext for polemical discussions and deconstructions of the “patriarchal hegemony” (a common approach during my graduate student days in art history); but that's not to imply the limitations on and biases against a female artist at the time aren't duly addressed here.

    I have to say without personally checking her source material, Hewitt’s treatment of her subject felt very honest, just as Valadon always strove to lay bare the truth of her artistic subjects—both of which make the dishonest title of this book even more striking.

    I can certainly understand the publisher’s desire to reach a broader audience with such a sensationalistic title and attractive cover. Someone who picks this up hoping for juicy details about a famous Impressionist’s romantic affairs is in for a real treat and should enjoy this great read nonetheless.

    But as a society, aren’t we past diminishing or undermining a female artist’s accomplishments (in any industry) by emphasizing the role men played in getting her there? Or by defining her in terms of the more salacious (“secret life”) aspects of her existence? Certainly, the details need to be covered—in this case, that famous male artists like Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec played essential roles in Valadon’s artistic rise. But female dealers, patrons, collectors, and family members played important roles as well, also covered in this book.

    In the weeks before this book’s publication, I can only hope the publisher “gets woke” and changes the cover to feature an artwork actually created by Valadon and moves the artist’s name to the left side of the title’s colon, thereby creating a cover worthy of the book’s contents and of the artist herself.

    (Note: I received an advance copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

  • Cynthia

    It’s only February but I bet Renoir’s Dancer will be one of my favorites for 2018. Hewitt has an engaging style that flows though it’s filled with lots of things such as dates, people and place names. Marie-Clementine Valadon was born in 1865 in Limousin France to an unwed mother who dreamed of living in Paris so that’s what Madeleine and her two daughters did and what a time they had. Marie was incorrible and forever drawing. Her mother gave up and let Marie run the exciting streets of Montmart

    It’s only February but I bet Renoir’s Dancer will be one of my favorites for 2018. Hewitt has an engaging style that flows though it’s filled with lots of things such as dates, people and place names. Marie-Clementine Valadon was born in 1865 in Limousin France to an unwed mother who dreamed of living in Paris so that’s what Madeleine and her two daughters did and what a time they had. Marie was incorrible and forever drawing. Her mother gave up and let Marie run the exciting streets of Montmartre. Marie eventually found work as an artist’s model developing a reputation that was good enough that not only Renoir but also Degas and other famous artists sought her out.

    She wasn’t just posing however she watching them mix their paints, observing their medium and technique and going home to practice her own drawing. When Degas discovered her talent he actively helped to promote her. Of course there were others that helped along the way. She often met them at the lively cafes of Montmartre where discussions about art could last all night. Along the way Marie changes her name to Suzanne, emulates her mom by having a child out of wedlock. I’d never heard of Valadon before reading this book. You can find samples of her talent online but not much is written about her either as a person or as an artist. She lived through so many noteworthy art movements beginning with the Impressionists, Dadaists, Fauvists, Expressionists, etc. Even if she hadn’t been an artist her life would be interesting but add her talent, Paris, and art and her story explodes.

    Thank you to the publisher for providing an ecopy.

  • Vanessa Couchman

    A fascinating study of the life of Suzanne Valadon, an artist's model in the late 19th century who drew in secret and was discovered by Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. She went on to become one of the most celebrated artists of her day, as much for her chaotic and Bohemian lifestyle as for her paintings.

    Today, Suzanne Valadon is much less prominent, partly because her works are challenging: she painted what she saw, often in stark honesty. Also, her paintings and sketches defy classification. Final

    A fascinating study of the life of Suzanne Valadon, an artist's model in the late 19th century who drew in secret and was discovered by Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. She went on to become one of the most celebrated artists of her day, as much for her chaotic and Bohemian lifestyle as for her paintings.

    Today, Suzanne Valadon is much less prominent, partly because her works are challenging: she painted what she saw, often in stark honesty. Also, her paintings and sketches defy classification. Finally, she is overshadowed by her own son, the painter Maurice Utrillo, whose alcohol-fuelled lifestyle and mental problems were a constant worry to Suzanne throughout her own life. Maurice's shadow hangs over the book, especially in the later chapters.

    Catherine Hewitt paints a vivid picture of life and the artistic milieu in Montmartre during the Belle Epoque. I would have liked to see a little more analysis of Suzanne's works themselves, but the book should help to put this wonderfully idiosyncratic artist back on the map.

  • Linda

    "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)

    And sometimes that pain leaves scars unseen with the human eye. Scars kept hidden in the deep folds of life known only by the one who bears their weight.

    Catherine Hewitt presents a fascinating glimpse into the life of Suzanne Valadon, artists' model and an eventual artist herself during the gentle and calming wave of the Impressionists movement that revolutionized the art world in France and far beyond.

    Hewitt begins her story in

    "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." (Pierre-Auguste Renoir)

    And sometimes that pain leaves scars unseen with the human eye. Scars kept hidden in the deep folds of life known only by the one who bears their weight.

    Catherine Hewitt presents a fascinating glimpse into the life of Suzanne Valadon, artists' model and an eventual artist herself during the gentle and calming wave of the Impressionists movement that revolutionized the art world in France and far beyond.

    Hewitt begins her story in 1849 with Madeleine Valadon, a humble linen maid, living within the cattle-dotted pastures of the Bessines countryside. Rituals and folklore surround its inhabitants and these tainted beliefs cause young women to make faulty decisions. Desperate for the eye of an eligible man, Madeleine marries the shifty blacksmith, Leger Couland, who is thirteen years her senior. Heartbreak is now chiseled into the steel of her existence. After Leger's death, Madeleine takes her young daughter, Marie-Alix, to the winding streets of Paris searching for a better life.

    In time, Madeleine falls, once again, into a sea of carelessness. The widow gives birth to another daughter in 1865. Marie-Clementine (later to be known as Suzanne) has been blessed with flashing blue eyes and fairness of face. Any resemblance to a Christmas angel limits itself as Marie takes to the Paris streets with abandon in her youth. Suzanne with that same youth and lithe agility discovers a talent as a horseback performer in the circus and is quite in demand.

    But Hewitt brings the spotlight of her story shifting with the focus on the life of Suzanne Valadon with Renoir, Manet, Monet, and Toulouse Lautrec drifting in and out along the outer perimeter. Valadon visits the cafes and coffee houses of Paris where she is wrapped in the presence of artists, writers, and musicians. Initially, Valadon is embraced for her modeling presence. But a breakthrough arrives as she dabbles in charcoal drawings and later watercolors and oils of her own creation.

    Renoir's Dancer reads like fiction, but it it filled with pockets of discoveries within the artists' dens of the time period. Although not as well known as Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, Valadon does what she does best.......breaking ground for women and leaving quite the footprints behind.

    I received a copy of Renoir's Dancer through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Catherine Hewitt for the opportunity.

  • Kathy

    Suzanne Valadon was a poor French country girl when she moved to Paris toward the end of the 19th century and became an artist's model for some of the leading artists of the time. More than that, however, she became a well-respected artist in her own right. Her fame, however, was eventually overshadowed by her alcoholic and mentally unstable son, the artist Maurice Utrillo. The book is a fascinating look at the art scene in Paris, particularly Montmartre, from the end of the 19th century century

    Suzanne Valadon was a poor French country girl when she moved to Paris toward the end of the 19th century and became an artist's model for some of the leading artists of the time. More than that, however, she became a well-respected artist in her own right. Her fame, however, was eventually overshadowed by her alcoholic and mentally unstable son, the artist Maurice Utrillo. The book is a fascinating look at the art scene in Paris, particularly Montmartre, from the end of the 19th century century into the 20th century. Those familiar with art will recognize many of the artists, Valadon encounters throughout her life.

    This is a very well-researched and documented book about a lesser known artist. There are 50 pages of notes (citations) in addition to a bibliography. I enjoyed this book because I am interested in both art, particularly the Impressionists, and Paris. The book is, at times, slow moving, particularly at the very beginning, where it includes a great deal of information about Paris's history, and toward the end. It also helps if the reader has at least a passing knowledge of some of the artists Valadon encounters.

  • Joann Amidon

    A delightful book, not just about Suzanne Valadon and her son, Maurice Utrillo, but also of many other artists in Paris in the late 1800s. It was the time of the construction of the Eiffel Tower and also the break from traditional painting. Much excitement and vitality. Hewitt has written an engaging history.

  • Tiffany

    Catherine Hewitt's Renoir's Dancer expertly examines the life and influence of Marie-Clémentine Valadon, later known as Suzanne Valadon. I admit that the narrative is slow sometimes, but this did not really deter my interest in the book. Before reading Hewitt's work, I no idea of the full life that Valadon lived mixing and mingling with some of the greatest artists of her time, first as a model, and later as an accepted artist in her own right. Hewitt narrative brings to life Valadon in ways I c

    Catherine Hewitt's Renoir's Dancer expertly examines the life and influence of Marie-Clémentine Valadon, later known as Suzanne Valadon. I admit that the narrative is slow sometimes, but this did not really deter my interest in the book. Before reading Hewitt's work, I no idea of the full life that Valadon lived mixing and mingling with some of the greatest artists of her time, first as a model, and later as an accepted artist in her own right. Hewitt narrative brings to life Valadon in ways I could not have expected when I first requested this work, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the time period, art, Paris, and/or the life of a woman that lived outside of the confines of society's expectations of a woman. Simply a brilliant work through which I learned an immense amount of information about a woman I hope to study in more depth in the future.

    Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the eARC of this work in exchange for my honest review.

  • Ellen

    If I could do 3 1/2 stars I would. One the one hand, this is a much needed biography, and addition to the narrative of the Paris art world, especially it's bohemian core. On the other hand, Hewitt's prose suffers from a distinctly purple cast and her imagination, her vision of what people must have looked like, must have felt, how they must have moved and so on is untrammeled by written record and cited evidence. It isn't that she didn't do her homework: the bibliography is lengthy and her ackno

    If I could do 3 1/2 stars I would. One the one hand, this is a much needed biography, and addition to the narrative of the Paris art world, especially it's bohemian core. On the other hand, Hewitt's prose suffers from a distinctly purple cast and her imagination, her vision of what people must have looked like, must have felt, how they must have moved and so on is untrammeled by written record and cited evidence. It isn't that she didn't do her homework: the bibliography is lengthy and her acknowledgment of key scholars, archivists and community members is complete. It is more that I kept asking myself, "Waint! How do you KNOW that?"

    The great strength of the book is the solid biography: Valadon's family routes in Bessines, her work as a model for a range of artists, notably Puvis de Chavannes, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the eponymous Renoir. It is with her first efforts to draw, her mentorship by Edgar Degas that the author's apotheosis of her subject begins. And hagiography is just not to my taste. Yes, Valadon was much ignored by the system; yes, it is entirely unfair that her alcoholic and mentally ill son Maurice Utrillo's work should have enjoyed such commercial success, making her "mother of the artist" rather than "the artist." But Valadon's work merits more serious discussion and critique and not just slavish admiration, a critique that Hewitt does not seem up to.

    For my part, I appreciated the more secure positioning of Valadon in history, the reminder that her creative life, like that of her contemporaries Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, continued into the 1930s. I found the detailed history of Maurice Utrillo's alcoholism and institutionalizations helpful. I also think Hewitt lets Valadon pretty much off the hook for Utrillo's problems when in fact that family unit, first the mother, grandmother, son group and then the Unholy Trinity of Valadon, her husband Andre Utter and Utrillo, is excessively romanticized rather than analyzed. And poor Lucie, who marries Utrillo and provides a secure and relatively harmonious existence for him from 1934 until his death in 1955. Ensuring that the man was clean, well fed and well dressed may be bourgeois, but bourgeois should not be such an insult.

    The failure for me was in the latter part of the book when there is constant discussion of Valadon's still lifes and landscapes but no images of them. Then works done early in her career (many of which are illustrated in color) are repeatedly brought up as they are sent to this exhibition or that retrospective. So what did that later, mature work really look like? Was it really as strong as the paintings done between 1905 and 1925? Inquiring minds...

    Finally the title. Sounds like the publishers got their way there. "Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon." If the point was to focus on Valadon as a great and underappreciated painter, then that tag does her no good. Moreover, as the author makes abundantly clear, Valadon's life was never "secret." She lived publicly, even notoriously. Her art, unsuccessful commercially for a variety of reasons, may have been comparatively unknown. But Suzanne Valadon's life? To her contemporaries and peers, they seemed often to know entirely too much.

  • Susan Liston

    Beautiful book, nicely illustrated, but just failed to engage me for some reason, took me forever to wade through it. Could have been half the length, I think was the problem. The author is young and is obviously enthusiastic about her subject, but for me, too much so. I just kept wanting to tell her, enough already. It was like reading a children's book at times, where they assume you know absolutely nothing about anything. Yes, I KNOW that young girls in the 19th century were taught to sew and

    Beautiful book, nicely illustrated, but just failed to engage me for some reason, took me forever to wade through it. Could have been half the length, I think was the problem. The author is young and is obviously enthusiastic about her subject, but for me, too much so. I just kept wanting to tell her, enough already. It was like reading a children's book at times, where they assume you know absolutely nothing about anything. Yes, I KNOW that young girls in the 19th century were taught to sew and embroider and were expected to get married. The circus opened on blah blah date at blah blah place. Fine, I don't need to THEN read "the stands quickly filled with men in their best suits and chicly dressed women who chattered excitedly!" No no, don't torture me with that sort of sentence. I've read many bits and pieces about Suzanne and thought a full length bio might be quite entertaining but I could have just read her Wiki page to fill in the gaps of what I already knew. But don't listen to me, someone else may love this book. I would have thought Suzanne Valadon was a sort of specialty subject but a beginner to this world would do fine with this.

Best Free Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2018 Best Free Books - All rights reserved.