The book titles are arranged in chronological order starting in March, 2021.
MARCH – “I Always Loved You” by Robin Oliveira – Beautifully written with period details featuring Mary Cassatt and her complex relationship with Edgar Degas. Mary was famous for her paintings of intimate bonds between mother and child. Included are Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet. Cassett was a dear friend of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s artistic sister and the basis for the Amy character in Little Women. Born 1926, Allegheny, Pa. died 1926. She went to Paris alone in 1866 to study and pursue her art. In 1877 her parents and sister Lydia joined her and they lived together in an apartment. In 1893 she was invited to show in Chicago by Bertha Palmer creating a large mural for the Women’s Building at the Chicago World’s Colombian Exhibition.
APRIL – “The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Artists" by Gary Monroe. Not a novel. There were 26 African American landscape artists in Florida in the Fort Pierce area. They sold their work door to door and along the highways from 1950s through 1980s. They used the same colors and their subject matter was very much the same. The style is very distinctive. They also painted in various stays in prison. You may want to explore them on the internet or see if the library has books on this culture.
MAY – “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” by Dominic Smith is the story of a Dutch female artist who lost her young daughter and in grief she secretly begins painting a dark landscape of a girl watching ice skaters from the edge of the woods. Females were not to be artists and the approximately twenty of the Golden Age in the Netherlands had to sign men’s names to their work. The painting's inheritor in the 1950s Manhattan has a forgery painted. In 1631 Sara becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke in Holland.
Other titles include “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” by Susan Vreeland, and “Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier. These titles are about Dutch Painters in the 1600s Netherlands. Two are about Johannes Vermeer who lived and worked in Delft in early 1600s.
JUNE – “Renoir’s Dancers: The Secret of Suzanne Valadon” by Catherine Hewitt. Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938) was a model for Renoir and other artists of the period including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He was her lover for two years until she attempted suicide in 1888. She was an accomplished painter. See the painting entitled “Renoir’s Dancer” and you will see Suzanne. She was the first woman painter admitted to the Societe Nationale des Beau-Arts, also the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. In the 1890s she befriended Edgar Degas who purchased her work and encouraged her she remained one of his closest friends until his death.
JULY – “Luncheon at the Boating Party” by Suzanne Vreeland.
Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party painting includes 14 people around the outdoor table in the summer along the Seine. The story is about each one and how difficult it was to get them together to pose many times for the painting. They met on Sundays for two months. It is 1880 and Auguste Renior and the author paint their lives, loves, losses, and triumphs so vividly that “the painting literally comes alive.”(Boston Globe)
AUGUST – Now the top selling female artist in the world. Yayoi Kusama (born 1929) is a Japanese contemporary artist who works in sculpture and installation. She is active in painting, performance, film, fashion, fiction and other arts. Her work is based in conceptual art. She is obsessed with repetitions. In childhood she made drawings of pumpkins and her art today is based on that shape. There are approximately 25 books featuring her work and her hallucinations since childhood enhance her work. Reading about her on the internet will take you hours; there is so much. She is a marketing genius.
SEPTEMBER – “Strapless” by Deborah Davis is the amazing story of the portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent. She was a young socialite by the name of Virginie Amelle Avegno Gautreau and the portrait was created 1883-1884. The scandal resulting from the presentation at the Paris Salon in 1884 amounted to a temporary setback for his career in France. She is posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps that reveals and hides at the same time.
OCTOBER – “Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman is the story of Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro, born 1830 on the island of St. Thomas. His mother was from a French-Jewish family from St. Thomas. The father, Portuguese Jewish, was a merchant who came to the island from France to deal with the hardware store. His father sent him to boarding school in France at age 12. Pissarro is considered the father of the French Impressionism. An incredibly intense and excellent book, “Depths of Glory” by Irving Stone would be a read for someone focused on France and the Impressionist.
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER SURPRISE! You might enjoy “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone.
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