Friday, October 17, 2008

With Violets-Elizabeth Robards

With Violets
Elizabeth Robards
Avon, Nov 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 0061579122

In 1868 Paris, they have seen one another at the Louvre; they have nodded hello in passing, but not talk. She knows who he is as he is perhaps the most famous painter in the world while she is a novice in comparison. Finally a few weeks later his friend Monsieur Fantin introduces artist Rosalie Reisener and impressionist painter Berthe Morisot to the great artist Edouard Manet, who invites the latter back to his studio.

Over the next few years he paints several portraits of her including her in a black hat WITH VIOLETS. They become friends and lovers although he is married. Their affair is risky until it is finally exposed.

This is an engaging historical biographical fiction of Berthe Morisot whose contemporaries thought nothing of her work and more of her modeling for Manet; her work is now considered some of the best of the French impressionists. However, WITH VIOLETS focuses on her relationship with Manet and not much on her art. Still this is a well written enjoyable fictionalized account of Berthe Morisot starting from the moment she first saw Manet.

Harriet Klausner

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