ABOUT THIS BOOK
“The mourning never stops, it just changes.” (Edward Albee)
For Claude Monet (1840–1926), the founder of French Impressionist painting, these words are a fitting testament to his lifelong relationship with the female muse, most notably—and most hauntingly—with his first wife, the model Camille Doncieux.
For the esteemed clinical psychologist and art historian Mary Mathews Gedo, Monet and His Muse represents a project twenty years in the making. Artfully interweaving biographical insight with psychoanalytic criticism, Gedo takes us on an exploration of Claude Monet’s conflicted relationships with women, complete with exquisitely researched material never before understood about one of our most popular—and inimitable—artists. Beginning with Monet’s childhood, Gedo delves into his relationships with a distant, unreliable father and his beloved, doting mother—whose death when Monet was just sixteen, the author establishes, inspired a lifetime preoccupation with the sea, its lushly imagined flora, and the figurative landscapes Monet painted to such acclaim.
And then—Camille. Entering Monet’s life when he was still a young man, becoming first his model and then mistress and then—finally—his wife, Camille Doncieux always fulfilled the function of muse, even after her life had ended, as Monet not only painted her one last time on her deathbed, but preserved her memory through the gardens he planted at his home in Giverny. Demonstrating how Monet’s connections with women were exceedingly complex, fraught with abusive impulses and infantile longing, Gedo sensitively uses Monet and Camille as exemplars in order to explore links between artists and muses in our modern age.