L'Origine: The Secret Life of the World's Most Erotic Masterpiece


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
Girl Friday Books
Publish Date
5.28 X 7.87 X 0.79 inches | 0.71 pounds

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About the Author

Internationally acclaimed artist Lilianne Milgrom was born in Paris, grew up in Australia, and currently resides in the United States. Milgrom holds two degrees from Melbourne University and an associate art degree from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. She exhibits her artwork around the world and is the recipient of multiple awards. In 2011, she became the first authorized copyist of Gustave Courbet's controversial painting L'Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), which hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris and draws over a million visitors a year. After rendering a near-identical copy of Courbet's masterpiece, she spent close to a decade researching and writing L'Origine. She lives in the greater Washington, DC, area with her husband while her grown children explore the world. L'Origine is her first book.


"L'Origine got me hooked--what a story! Milgrom brings the reader right along on her adventures as a copyist of one of the most well-known paintings in all the world." --Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of French Fried, French Toast, Joie de Vivre, and Final Transgression

"L'Origine is an apt title for Lilianne Milgrom's debut novel, since it is the painting itself--L'Origine du monde--that is the heroine of this vividly written, well-researched, and highly compelling book. Part historical fiction, part personal journey, L'Origine is an original story well worth reading." --Barbara Linn Probst, awarding-winning author of Queen of the Owls: A Novel

"What a gorgeous, captivating novel: a tour de force! Who knew that a painting's provenance could make for such a profoundly moving and thought-provoking page-turner? I couldn't read fast enough and at the same time didn't want to reach the end. Milgrom has written a masterpiece." --Joan Dempsey, author of the award-winning novel This Is How It Begins

"I LOVED this book! I love learning about art history and all things related to France, in addition to Milgrom's intimate and fascinating relationship with this work of art. I couldn't put this book down and will never look at art the same way again--especially L'Origine du monde." --Krystal Kenney, Paris-based photographer and founder of La Vie Creative podcast.

"L'Origine is a vivid and well-told novel about one of the more notorious paintings in the history of art. Immaculately researched and full of verve, the book is a real achievement. The story is prefaced with a tale of the author's own: how she spent several weeks in the Musée d'Orsay making a painted copy of Courbet's original L'Origine du monde. When the narrative transports the reader back to nineteenth-century Paris and into Courbet's studio, we are already primed in the intimate and complex processes of the act of looking. One of the pleasures of the novel is that it celebrates the creative and erotic possibilities generated between an artist, their model, and the centuries-old act of looking. Five stars." --Christopher P. Jones, historian and art critic

"There's nothing like a good story to grip a reader, and Milgrom's own tale of witnessing and emulating Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde is the perfect way to get into--and attempt to understand--this infamous masterpiece. Highly recommended for art history aficionados, Francophiles, and history and biography fans. It exposes readers who stand outside the normal confines of the art world to the fascinating world beyond the frame." --Jennifer Dasal, podcast host of ArtCurious and author of ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History

"Milgrom's novel is amazingly researched and a seamless mix of fiction and true history. She has written an extremely engaging book, like a thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed the parallel between the painting's odyssey and the condition of women throughout history." --Sylvia A. Rodríguez, psychoanalyst in the Lacanian field and cofounder of the Australian Center for Psychoanalysis

"Throughout history, female sexuality has been regarded as ugly, repulsive, and shameful while simultaneously revered to the point of idolization. Lilianne Milgrom's intimate experience with Gustave Courbet's scandalous painting gives testament to the classic divide of women's cultural representation." --Dr. Bella Ellwood-Clayton, sexual anthropologist, author, and TED Talk presenter

"Milgrom's book weaves her own experiences as a 'copiste' of the infamous painting, L'Origine du monde, with a deeply researched and engaging narrative retelling of its almost unbelievable journey from inception through to the present day. Part tr