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The Women Who Inspired London Art (Hardback)

The Avico Sisters and Other Models of the Early 20th Century

P&S History > British History P&S History > Social History Women of History World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Lucy M Peterson
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 180
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526725257
Published: 15th October 2018



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This is the story of women caught up in the tumultuous art scene of the early twentieth century, some famous and others lost to time.

By 1910 the patina of the belle époque was wearing thin in London. Artists were on the hunt for modern women who could hold them in thrall. A chance encounter on the street could turn an artless child into an artist’s model, and a model into a muse. Most were accidental beauties, plucked from obscurity to pose in the great art schools and studios. Many returned home to lives that were desperately challenging — almost all were anonymous.

Meet them now. Sit with them in the Café Royal amid the wives and mistresses of London’s most provocative artists. Peek behind the brushstrokes and chisel cuts at women whose identities are some of art history’s most enduring secrets. Drawing on a rich mélange of historical and anecdotal records and a primary source, this is storytelling that sweeps up the reader in the cultural tides that raced across London in the Edwardian, Great War and interwar periods.

A highlight of the book is a reveal of the Avico siblings, a family of models whose faces can be found in paint and bronze and stone today. Their lives and contributions have been cloaked in a century of silence. Now, illuminated by family photos and oral histories from the daughter of one of the models, the Avico story is finally told.

Listed in 'Reading Corner'

Britain, October 2019

The Women who Inspired London Art is an enjoyable book, full of diverting anecdotes and interesting titbits. It gives us stories of some of the most celebrated artist-model partnerships in London.

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Alexander Adams Art

This book starts with the general and moves on to the specific, covering the personalities and life styles of the various artists prominent in London in the early twentieth century, as well as conditions for models in studios and schools, before looking specifically at the Avico sisters as examples of models from the time They appear to have been luckier than most, making a decent living compared to the majority of unknown models.

It is an interesting book for those interested in the milieu of the London art scene in the 1910s – 1930s.

Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

The Women Who Inspired London Art reads as an exhibition: Its glossy, colourful spreads, accompanied by well-researched text capture the excitement of a movement in a way that’s highly accessible. I was able to hear the voices and the debates as, through each chapter, we traversed the times, ideals, different scenes, war, bright lights and faces of the period. For anyone who hasn’t encountered modernism before, seen through this lens, the subject is fantastically readable.

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She Noted, Chloe Prince

The author gives an overview of a multitude of elements, some unexpected, which influenced art in London before the Second World War and may well inspire a reader to seek further information about a painter, model or artistic style.

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Denise Bates, Author

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful book and recommend it as a cracking good read. Useful and attractive it will be essential to researchers, those in search of inspiration or those who love seeing photographs of the women who shaped our artistic landscape.

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The Kissed Mouth Blog

The Women Who Inspired London Art is lively and packs in a lot of information about artists and their models.

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The Penniless Press

For Anglophiles, historians and art lovers
This is an engaging and illuminating book about a subject on which little has been written. Models who posed for artists in early twentieth century London were muses for many of the significant paintings and sculptures of the time. Sometimes the model was a family member of the artist, or a famous or infamous acquaintance. The majority of life models were, however, anonymous and are unknown today. This book covers the art scene and all of its participants from the turn of the 20th century through 1930. It focuses on the colorful artists and models of the times, the social settings of London, and the intervention and aftermath of World War I, The author, through research and interviews, reveals the modeling careers of four siblings known for their form and beauty. The fascinating story of the Avico sisters puts a face on the many anonymous women who inspired the art of early twentieth century London.

Amazon Customer

I know I am biased - the book also covers the lives of my mother and her sisters. However, the whole book is beautifully written, interesting to read and the quality of the paper and cover makes it a pleasure to hold.

Amazon Customer

This is a fascinating account of how ordinary women and girls were sought out by artists and asked to become models for them in the post-Edwardian era in London. Reminiscent of the ladies who inspired the pre-Raphaelites except that few if any of these new models were famous. Absolutely enthralling, and well illustrated too.

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