Saturday, December 5, 2009

who really was Victorine Meurent?

A few years ago when I was in the Metropolitan Museum gift shop ferreting out research books for my novel CLAUDE & CAMILLE: A NOVEL OF MONET, I found a fascinating, slim paperback about an art historian's search in old Paris archives for clues to the life of Manet's favorite model, Victorine Meurent. Called ALIAS OLYMPIA, the author Eunice Lipton tells of her determined chase to discover what she could of this fascinating model. Part biography, part memoir and some fiction, I found it an unusual and compelling book.

The independent Victorine, who also played guitar and violin, broke off from Manet when she began to take art lessons on her own. One year her work was accepted to the prestigious Salon when Manet's was refused. Only one of her paintings is known to survive. The writer George Moore who met her in Paris when she was older describes her as "a thin woman with red hair, brown small eyes set closely, reminding me of little glasses of cognac... She lit cigarette after cigarette..."


  1. And what a strange painting "Mlle Victorine in the Costume of an Espada" is, with its bizarre perspective!

  2. Manet was a bit odd to my mind....I have never felt as comfortable with him as the others.