Muse

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Meet the unexpected, overlooked and forgotten models of art history.

Who was Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’?
Why was Grace Jones covered in graffiti?
How did Francis Bacon meet the burglar who became his muse?

The perception of the muse is that of a passive, powerless model, at the mercy of an influential and older artist. But is this trope a romanticised myth? Far from posing silently, muses have brought emotional support, intellectual energy, career-changing creativity and practical help to artists.

Muse tells the true stories of the incredible muses who have inspired art history’s masterpieces. From Leonardo da Vinci’s studio to the covers of Vogue, art historian, critic and writer Ruth Millington uncovers the remarkable role of muses in some of art history’s most well-known and significant works. Delving into the real-life relationships that models have held with the artists who immortalised them, it will expose the influential and active part they have played and deconstruct reductive stereotypes, reframing the muse as a momentous and empowered agent of art history.

© Ruth Millington 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • Packed with tales of enchanting lives, this book puts so many forgotten and so often unnamed figures into the spotlight. Telling their stories – in ways I like to think is on their terms – Ruth Millington sheds light on so many figures we know by image, but so often not by name. An exhilarating and fascinating insight into many of the people who have shaped our culture, and who have redefined what we think and know of as ‘muse’.

    Katy Hessel

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