Secrets Behind the Paintings – Artist Muses

Secrets Behind the Paintings – Artist Muses
Many artists are known to have used family, friends, and loves as the models for their paintings. I will discuss Renoir, Picasso and others to reveal the 'secrets behind the paintings'.

Perhaps the person best known for painting self portraits is Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn.
He holds the record for painting himself in different settings and attire (sometimes opulent and flamboyant). However, an accurate count still doesn’t exist.

Fast forward to today - the photographer Cindy Sherman becomes both artist and model as she 'plays' many roles in her art. We all are capable of 'playing' various roles in our lives and Sherman’s important work has greatly influenced contemporary art.

Pierre Auguste Renoir’s "Luncheon of the Boating Party" is a virtual who’s who of the celebrities of the day: Gustave Caillebotte (Renoir’s fellow artist), Ellen Andrée (Folies-Bergére mime), and Angéle (Montmartre model and singer), just to name a few.

Pablo Picasso is probably the most publicized of all the artists for 'exposing' his loves in his paintings. It has been stated that you can date a Picasso painting by who the model was.

Fernande Olivier was Picasso’s first long term relationship. She would become the subject in many of his Rose period paintings (1905-1907).

Olga Khokhlova was a Russian ballerina who Picasso married in 1918. She and their son Paulo would influence his mother/child themes.

Marie-Thérèse Walter was seventeen when she met Picasso in 1927. She would become his mistress while he remained married to Olga. She was the inspiration for his Vollard Suite etchings.

Dora Maar was a photographer who documented his "Guernica" painting. She was referred by Picasso to be his "private muse."

Picasso met Jacqueline Roque when she was twenty-something. She would become his second wife in 1961. The artist painted 70+ portraits of Jacqueline – more than any other muse.

Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer painted his daughters in many of his extraordinary paintings, but cloth merchant Antoni van Leeuwenhoek is believed to be the long-haired model for "The Astonomer" and "The Geographer."

Some other notable artist/muses are: Rodin/Camille Claudel, Man Ray/Lee Miller, Salvador Dali/Gala Dali, and Oskar Kokoschka/Alma Mahler.

Historically, artists painted self portraits or used family, friends, or loves as their models because economically it was of little or no cost. Honestly, who could tolerate the temperament of a person (artist) more than someone closest to {the artist} them?

You can own the book, "The Lives of the Muses" by Francine Prose, available here from

You Should Also Read:
Artists Who Paint Themselves in Art
Artist's Self Portrait in Religious Works

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