Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster
This novel is about the late-19th-century painter Gwen John. Alone in her attic room in Paris she hopes to impress her lover Rodin with a painting. Forster takes us on her inner journey towards independence.
Life? or Theatre? by Charlotte Salomon
This isn’t a novel but an imaginative autobiography illustrated by hundreds of the artist’s richly coloured gouaches. Salomon set out to write “something wildly eccentric” and succeeded brilliantly before she was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of 26.
Tamara de Lempicka was a Polish-Russian painter who became famous for her scandalously realistic nude paintings. This novel explores her life and particularly her relationship with a 17-year-old prostitute,Rafaela Fanoat,
The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland
Vreeland shows how this extraordinary woman carried on working as an artist throughout a dramatic life; married off after a scandalous rape trial, she brought up her daughter alone.An exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi’s powerful paintings is on show at the National Gallery.
The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein
The early 20th century Chinese painter Pan Yuliang was sold into prostitution as a child but managed to go to art school in Shanghai and, eventually, to Europe. When she returned to China, which was on the brink of revolution, her art was considered too modern.