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250 × 190 mm
424 pages
260 illustrations, 188 in colour
14 Oct 2019
  • £39.95

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Venus Betrayed The Private World of Édouard Vuillard Julia Frey

Édouard Vuillard was so secretive that he berated himself for betraying his emotions in conversation. He was a reticent, impassioned man, a timid stalker and a social climbing anarchist, caught in conflicting desires. From the 1880s until the advent of World War II, using styles from academic to Pointillist to Nabi to Fauve, he abundantly revealed his love and hatred in his paintings: models pose beside a plaster torso cast from the Venus of Milo, women appear without faces, anxiety radiates from many masterpieces, while other works were left unfinished for months or years.

Drawing on insights and images from Vuillard’s still unpublished diaries, Julia Frey takes the reader into Vuillard’s private world of cabarets, experimental theatres, holiday resorts and intimate boudoirs, showing how his art reflects his fraught personal relations and his artistic struggles. Frey chooses many of his finest works, from the famous intimate interior scenes to book illustrations and poster designs, and examines his complex relationships with friends such as Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Stéphane Mallarmé, Felix Vallotton, and the women he loved: his mother and sister, penniless models and rich men’s wives.

‘Frey’s biographical account offers a new and intimate look at Vuillard – an artist whose work is central to the history of modern art. Centered on the private life that so characteristically defined Vuillard’s painting, the book is engaging and personal, appealing to readers who are both new to and familiar with its subject.’ — Britany Salsbury, Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings, The Cleveland Museum of Art

‘The title of Julia Frey’s Venus Betrayed hints at the provocative reassessment of an artist best remembered for his small scenes of intimate domestic life, and as a bachelor who lived with his mother all her life. “Saint” Vuillard is now seen as much a sinner and indeed haunted individual. Densely illustrated with Vuillard’s personal jottings and sketches to full blown paintings, this is a breakthrough in artist biography, offering bold and fascinating interpretations of recurring motifs, gestures and other symbols for Vuillard’s ongoing passions and emotional conflicts, to bolster exciting new readings of the artist and the women in his life.’ — Gloria Groom, Chair of European Painting and Sculpture, the Art Institute of Chicago

‘Frey’s provocative portrait of Edouard Vuillard captures the paradoxical nature of the man and his oeuvre. Drawing on biographical, artistic, and photographic records, Frey refracts Vuillard’s work through multiple perspectives in seventeen intriguing essays that reveal the richness and complexity of his life and art. This profusely illustrated volume offers original perspectives that challenge the reader to see Vuillard’s work afresh.’ — Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Portland Art Museum

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Julia Frey is emeritus professor of French and Art History at University of Colorado, and a successful artist, printmaker and writer. Her books include the critically acclaimed biography Toulouse-Lautrec: A Life (1994), which won a PEN literary award, and Balcony View: A 9/11 Diary (2011). She now lives in France.