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Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon
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Published:
St. Martin's Publishing Group 2018
Lexile measure:
1170L
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Description

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.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/27/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781250157645
ASIN:
B074DYB11H
Lexile measure:
1170
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Catherine Hewitt. (2018). Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Catherine Hewitt. 2018. Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Catherine Hewitt, Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Catherine Hewitt. Renoir's Dancer: The Secret Life of Suzanne Valadon. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2018. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Catherine Hewitt studied French Literature and Art History at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her proposal for The Mistress of Paris was awarded the runner-up's prize in the 2012 Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Competition for the best proposal by an uncommissioned, first-time biographer. She lives in a village in Surrey.
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title
Renoir's Dancer
fullDescription

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.

gradeLevels
      • value: Grade 8
      • value: Grade 9
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 13, 2017
        Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris) considers the unlikely trajectory of French painter and model Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938), who was the child of a housemaid and became the belle of Montmartre as Renoir’s muse and a talented painter in her own right. The book illuminates the social web at the heart of the Paris art scene, focusing on the camaraderie that developed between Valadon and artists Toulouse Lautrec and Edgar Degas, which led her to model for Renoir (she is immortalized in the Dance at Bougival). After Degas recognized the abundant raw talent of the model turned artist, he mentored her, but her bohemian lifestyle grew difficult for her to keep up after she gave birth at age 18 to a son, Maurice. Hewitt persuasively casts Valadon as a pragmatist adept at navigating her public and private lives, resolving Maurice’s uncertain paternity in 1891, then marrying businessman Paul Mousis and exhibiting internationally soon thereafter. Her free spirit prevailed decades later when she fell for her son’s friend, the then-23-year-old painter André Utter, who would became her second husband as well as her business manager. The cast of world-class artists and the stories of their romantic entanglements combine to produce a book that reads like an opera libretto revolving around a pioneering spirit who bristled at the limiting label of “woman artist.”

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2017
        Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) may not be a name most people mention when they discuss great artists. This biography should change that.One might wonder how Valadon, whom Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret, 2015) describes in this excellent biography as having "revolutionized the art world and irreversibly altered the place of women within that world," hasn't received more widespread recognition. One reason is that Valadon adhered to no school of painting; another is that she was "a victim of the company she kept." Some may think of her only as the mother of cityscape painter Maurice Utrillo or the model who inspired Renoir's Dance at Bougival and The Large Bathers or the muse of Toulouse-Lautrec. Born in rural France to a linen maid and a father she never knew, Valadon moved to Montmartre with her mother and sister after her father died. When she was older, she frequented clubs like Le Chat Noir, where young artists discussed their desire to depict "contemporary life, the sweat and odour of real men and women." A self-taught artist, she started as a nude model. But when Edgar Degas saw her secret drawings, he said, "you are one of us," and helped her become the first woman painter to have works accepted into the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Hewitt chronicles Valadon's romances and her difficulties in raising Maurice, whose childhood fits led to his lifelong battle with alcoholism. More importantly, the author demonstrates that Valadon's works were revolutionary not just because of her style--"sharp, almost crude contours," with the use of single lines for profiles--but because of the subject matter, such as children who, far from looking like the cosseted offspring of impressionist works, were naked, awkward, and "lonely, so incredibly lonely." Hewitt sums up Valadon's achievement perfectly: "Other artists showed what viewers wanted to see. Suzanne showed them what was true."A well-researched tribute to and resurrection of a master of fin de siecle art.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: School Library Journal
      • content:

        July 1, 2018

        Get ready to Google some art, because this is a biography that will entice readers to look up referenced pieces long before they get to the insets. With prose that is reminiscent of fiction, Hewitt weaves a narrative of the life of artist Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938). The name may not mean much to those outside of artistic circles, but Valadon is a creator worth remembering. Lacking a father who would claim her, Valadon went from a poor daughter of a single mother to a model and consort to Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and other notable artists of the time. With no formal training, she clawed her way into the society of French artists following the Impressionist era. Hewitt's expertise in French literature and art history is evident as she brings this lesser-known historical figure to life. Black-and-white pictures from Valadon's life are welcome augmentations to the somewhat dense biography. Color insets provide vibrant reproductions of the art in which Valadon was a model as well as the pieces that she and her son, Maurice Utrillo, produced. Readers vicariously experience the triumphs and pitfalls of a woman determined to succeed in a man's world on her own terms. VERDICT Strong themes of feminism and self-determination make this a solid additional purchase, especially where art history is appreciated.-Jodeana Kruse, R.A. Long High School, Longview, WA

        Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from January 1, 2018
        Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret, 2017) continues her mission to tell the stories of covertly powerful, yet overlooked French women in this step-by-step, swerve-by-swerve biography of the artist's model and muse, revolutionary artist, and mother of an artist, Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938). A wildly impulsive country girl who loved to draw, she was raised by her determined single mother, a hotel maid who boldly brought them to Paris, where beautiful and talented Valadon modeled for prominent artists and became one of few women artists whose work was shown in prestigious exhibitions. Valadon, who danced to no one's tune but her own and reveled in Montmartre cafe life, provides Hewitt with a glorious cast, including Renoir, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Degasardent champions of Valadon's workand Andre Utter, Valadon's much younger husband. Valadon lived a life of ceaseless tumult and trauma as her son (father unknown), a prodigy burdened with afflictions exacerbated by alcoholism, lurched from crisis to crisis, even as he attained fame and wealth as Maurice Utrillo, the great painter of Parisian street scenes. Hewitt's straight-ahead telling of Valadon's dramatic, many-faceted story captures this artist of honesty and passion, this matriarch of creative rebellion and gutsy expressivity, with precision, narrative drive, and low-key awe.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 1, 2017

        If you think you don't know Suzanne Valadon, you're wrong; she was the model who figured in beloved paintings by Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Puvis de Chavannes, and others. She was also a painter in her own right, presenting less idealized visions of women than her confreres and becoming the first woman painter admitted to the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts. From the author of the well-received The Mistress of Paris.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from February 1, 2018

        Hewitt (The Mistress of Paris) brings the story of artist Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) vividly to life with a skillful weaving of valuable historical and family details into a biographical narrative. An artist's model, Valadon formed close associations with Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, and composer Erik Satie, among other notable figures in late 19th-century, bohemian Montmartre, Paris. With candid sensitivity, the author describes the intricacies of Valadon's world there: her modeling work, liaisons, unconventionality, and relationship with her illegitimate son, artist Maurice Utrillo. Eventually, Valadon cultivated her own talents as an artist, a challenge for any woman of the time but particularly for an untrained member of the working class. Valadon depicted her subjects with forthright honesty and adhered to no formal artistic theory aside from her own. Nevertheless, she earned praise from Degas and others. Over time, Valadon devoted herself fully to her art, and her motivation and passion for painting and drawing brought recognition. Her life story is multifaceted and intriguing, and Hewitt portrays Valadon's character in all of its complexity, while skillfully capturing the vibrant historical and cultural setting. VERDICT A fine selection of photographs and extensive notes superbly complement this absorbing, thoroughly researched book. A must for art lovers and scholars, it will also appeal to readers of serious historical biographies. [See Prepub Alert, 9/11/17.]--Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

A 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...

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