The Portraitist – A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap

Publication August 30, 2022

This novel is the result of seven years of research, writing, and revising. I’m excited to share it with you! Kirkus Reviews called it “an imaginative work that brings the story of a little-known artist to vivid life.” Susanne Dunlap

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

In The Portraitist Susanne Dunlap explores the sumptuous world of art in Paris in the 18th century during the tumultuous years leading to the French Revolution. Readers are introduced to the current social and political issues through struggling female artist, Adélaïde Labille-Guitard, and her rival Vigée Le Brun, well known for her royal connections and commissioned portraits.

Dunlap’s impeccable research shines a light on the historical backdrop of the storming of the Bastille and the world of the Royalists and the Jacobins. The sounds of angry chants, loud drumming, and marching feet keep readers seeking an end to the bloodshed as the Revolution comes alive on the pages. Dunlap weaves the details of the artists’ lives and attempts at reform of women’s acceptance in the Académie Royale with studios at the Louvre and the palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette, the Guillotine, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Robespierre add to the suspenseful political intrigue.  

The spicy details of Adélaïde’s desperate, dangerous solution to earning money, decisions she makes to survive and ideals she’s willing to fight for, make her a character that women will connect with emotionally and socially.  The pressures of women in the 18th century are not so unlike those women face today.  The Portraitist is filled with luscious period details, the French Revolution and Adélaïde’s attention to advancing women in the arts while seeking equal rights in the Académie Royale. Truly a French masterpiece. C’est très magnifique!  

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, Paris 1749–1803 Paris) Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, Marie Gabrielle Capet (1761–1818) and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond (died 1788), 1785 Oil on canvas; 83 x 59 1/2 in. (210.8 x 151.1 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.5) https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436840?ft=Adelaide+Labille-Guiard

History is my muse. I love writing, dogs, cycling, and writing. Did I say writing already?

I’m fascinated by the women of the past, how they lived, how they negotiated with the conditions of their time to thrive as best they could.

I’ve written about real historical women and invented characters who might have lived then.

One thought on “The Portraitist – A Novel of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard by Susanne Dunlap

  1. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this but seems like it isn’t available on Audible yet☹️…I’m finishing Horse and thoroughly enthralled with the art, science and history.

    Like

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