The three artistic giants of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Monet, Rodin and Cézanne, need no introduction. But who can name their wives? Despite the present-day interest in ‘significant others’ and in intimate details, there has been a singular absence of curiosity about these women, who disappear into the penumbra left by the glare of their husbands' reputations. Camille Doncieux, Rose Beuret and Hortense Fiquet were all intimate with creative geniuses, yet in the literature on art they remain obscure, silent and enigmatic.
This situation has now changed. Ruth Butler shakes out old anecdotes and new observations, at the same time asking more questions than can be answered. The chief problem here is the scarcity of first-hand documents. But Butler has good academic instincts and curatorial connections, and, when faced with a shortage