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L'Origine: The secret life of the world's most erotic masterpiece


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A wonderful exploration of the history behind Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde from the painting's first ever official copyist.

In 2011 Lilianne Milgrom set out to copy one of the world's most controversial paintings: Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde. Her six week journey into Courbet's brushstrokes led her to write "L'Origine: The secret life of the world's most erotic masterpiece". In this book Lilianne describes her experience with L'Origine du monde and gives us a deliciously detailed look into its history from birth to its current home at d’Orsay Museum.

Brilliant, engaging, and beautifully written. This book was an absolute delight to read. From the very first page the author managed to grab me, haul me to Paris, take me on her copying journey, then thrust me back 155 years and let me experience the birth and life of L'Origine du monde.

What grabbed my attention from the very beginning was how "L'Origine" was written as a historical fiction rather than a documentary style book. Even though the book explored the real history of the painting, the little details and conversations were what made it really come to life for me. Lilianne's masterfully added fiction spice made the book an engaging and "unputdownable" read instead of what could have been a boring collection of historical facts.

Another thing that brought the book to life was the brilliant world-building. The author uses many historical events throughout the book to give us a feel of what time period we're in. Namely my favorite art scandal: The Rite of Spring. I found that to be clever, especially for a book that jumps so frequently through time and does not have cause to portray intricate historical scenes.

I was not very familiar with L'Origine du monde or its story prior to reading this book, and now my entire search history is full of articles and facts about it. Lilianne Milgrom not only explores the general view on L'Origine du monde through the ages, but also the impact it has had on the perception of the female body, especially for herself. "L'Origine" has really made me see the painting and even myself in a new light and I really appreciate that.

This was one of those rare books that gave me that indescribable feeling of pure satisfaction after finishing a fulfilling story. It has made itself a very special place in my heart and it's quite obvious why. "L'Origine" was written with love. And I cannot emphasize enough the power such love has on a book.

If you like art history or if you have ever been even the slightest bit intrigued by Gustave Courbet's most famous painting then you must absolutely read this book.

Reviewed by

I'm a passionate reader and reviewer who is always looking for new books to love. I've been reviewing professionally since 2015, and read a very wide range of books. I've always made it a priority to spotlight indie authors on my blog. And I can often be found spilling tea on my favorite books.

PROLOGUE: The Copyist

About the author

I am a Paris-born, internationally acclaimed artist and author. I have lived in Israel and Australia and now reside in the Washington, DC, area. I exhibit my artwork around the world. L’Origine is my first novel. Aside from my family I love art, writing, reading, dancing, yoga, and cats! view profile

Published on July 28, 2020

0-1000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Historical Fiction

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