Hidden in the Shadow of the Master The Model-Wives of Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin Ruth Butler

Publication date:
18 May 2010
Yale University Press
376 pages: 229 x 148mm
59 b-w + 1 color illus.
Sales territories:


A journey of discovery into the lives and contributions of three forgotten women, obscured by the power of their husbands’ fame

Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Auguste Rodin. The names of these brilliant nineteenth-century artists are known throughout the world. But what is remembered of their wives? What were these unknown women like? What roles did they play in the lives and the art of their famous husbands?

In this remarkable book of discovery, art historian Ruth Butler coaxes three shadowy women out of obscurity and introduces them for the first time as individuals. Through unprecedented research, Butler has beenable to create portraits of Hortense Fiquet, Camille Doncieux, and Rose Beuret—the models, and later the wives, respectively, of Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin, three of the most famous French artists of their generation.The book tells the stories of three ordinary women who faced issues of a dramatically changing society as well as the challenges of life with a striving genius. Butler illuminates the ways in which these model-wives figured in their husbands’ achievements and provides new analyses of familiar works of art.Filled with captivating detail, the book recovers the lives of Hortense, Camille, and Rose, and recognizes with new insight how their unique relationships enriched the quality of their husbands’ artistic endeavors.

Ruth Butler is professor emerita from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of the award-winning book Rodin: The Shape of Genius. She lives in Cambridge, MA.

"Had they been literate, any of this book's three subjects—wives to the founders of French Impressionism—could have penned fascinating memoirs. . . . Looking beyond their work, Butler considers the human side of these artistic giants through the foggy lens of their most dedicated subjects."—Publishers Weekly

"Judicious, exhaustively researched, and gracefully written."—The Atlantic Monthly

"Masterfully researched. . . . As this book makes amply evident, these women's lives, no matter how difficult, painful, or uncertain, were never boring. Butler has shown that the silent muse is a compelling subject in her own right."—Kate Christensen, Wilson Quarterly