The Power Of Edouard Manet's 'Very Active Muse'

April 25, 2015 2:06 PM

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Victorine Meurent was just 17 years old when she met the great Impressionist painter Edouard Manet on a Paris street in 1862. The young, poverty-stricken redhead became his favorite model, and Manet painted her reclining nude in "Olympia" — a work that scandalized the Paris art world in 1865 and now hangs in the Musée d'Orsay. Meurent is also depicted in Manet's "Luncheon on the Grass" and other paintings.

Meurent was not a passive muse, author Maureen Gibbons tells NPR's Scott Simon. The transformative relationship between model and artist is at the heart of Gibbons's new novel, Paris Red. "Whatever energy went back and forth between them in [Manet's] studio must have been terrifically powerful," Gib...

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