A brooch. A violin. A genealogical mystery. An unfinished portrait.
Lady with a Brooch begins with a simple question: who was the arresting, enigmatic woman portrayed in Edvard Munch's famous 1903 lithograph? From there, by twists and turns, the book follows the dramatic, improbable adventures of Eva Mudocci--a violinist who won renown across Europe in the early decades of the 20th century performing on the priceless Golden Emiliani Stradivarius.
A striking figure on and off the stage, Mudocci inspired portraits by celebrated artists--including not only Munch (famed painter of The Scream), but also Henri Matisse. Then, as two wars reshaped Europe’s cultural landscape, Eva Mudocci was forgotten. Until now!
In her foreword, Munch scholar and collector Sarah Epstein writes, "Rima Shore, a dedicated scholar, traveled widely over six years years, following every lead in order to trace Eva and Bella’s lives, careers, families, and friends, as well as the relationship of these two women. The book is the fruit of dozens of interviews, in many countries, which revealed previously hidden stories, letters, documents, and news items."
New questions emerged as the research progressed. How did the violinist--born Evangeline Hope Muddock and known in her youth by the stage name Miss Rose Lynton--transform into the enigmatic Madame Eva Mudocci? How did a middle-class teen from Brixton--raised by a single mother--come to play on a world famous Stradivarius? What happened to the violin? How did the family gain and then lose a small fortune? Lady with a Brooch solves all of these mysteries.
Perhaps most compelling is this question: Who was the father of the twins born in 1908 to Mudocci--who never married? Mudocci took this secret to her grave. In 2012, her granddaughter stunned viewers of a televized interview when she announced that she had reason to believe her grandfather might be Edvard Munch.
Early in 2013, author Rima Shore tracked down Mudocci's granddaughter to learn more. Over time, she solved this mystery as well, and in the process filled in the outlines of Mudocci's fascinating life and career--sketchy until now. The book offers insight into Mudocci's devoted relationship with Bella Edwards and explores the challenges faced by women musicians in a time and place uniquely hostile to their success. Eva Mudocci's portrait becomes a launchpad for exploring the artistic and cultural milieus in which she and Bella lived and worked. Moving from Victorian England through Belle Epoque France and pre-war Germany and Scandinavia to the chaos of two world wars and their aftermath, the book explores the workings of family secrets and reflects the power of love and friendship in a turbulent world.
The final chapter answers one last question: Who was the "unknown artist" who created an unfinished oil painting of Mudocci that has hung for years in a Minnesota dining room? Why was it never completed? Could it be Edvard Munch? If so, how could a painting by one of the world's most celebrated artists remain unacknowledged for so long? Here is a case where headlines have been ripped from the book! Lady with a Brooch is indeed both a biography and a detective story.
Some 40 photographs as well as 10 color art reproductions and 10 b&w reproductions accompany the narrative, and help bring to life the fascinating story of The Lady with a Brooch.