Read about the lives of famous artists with these engaging fictional retellings.
I love a good novel that takes me into the past and into the lives of people, both known and unknown. That’s why I’ve always loved a good historical fiction book.
This list focuses on artists: their lives, their inspiration, and their muses. You’ll sometimes delve into the imagined stories of some of their most famous paintings or read about love affairs and their sometimes tumultuous lives. And, in all of these historical fiction books about artists, you’ll find engaging and fascinating stories.
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Historical Fiction Books About Artists
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. This richly-imagined story about Vermeer’s famous painting tells the story of the servant girl Griet and how she inspired Vermeer. Buy it here.
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. This imagined story behind the medieval tapestries hanging in the Cluny Museum takes you back to Paris in 1490 to tell the story of their creation. Buy it here.
Claude & Camille: A Novel Of Monet by Stephanie Caldwell. The story of Monet and his lifelong love & muse Camille along with his struggles, inspiration, and friendship with other impressionist painters. Buy it here.
Clara & Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. Behind Louis Comfort Tiffany is Clara Driscoll, the head of his woman’s division and the creative force behind many of his stained glass creations. This is her story and the choice she needs to make between love and her creative job. Buy it here.
Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland. An imagined story of Renoir and his real-life friends viewed through the lens of one of this most famous paintings. Buy it here.
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. An imagined story of two sisters and their lives in the Paris Ballet that was changed after a meeting with Degas and being immortalized in his painting, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Buy it here.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. Set in Florence during the Renaissance, this book tells the story of Alessandra Cecchi, who is being married off to a wealthy older man despite being in love the with young artist charged with decorating the walls of her family’s palazzo. Buy it here.
A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. The story of the real-life woman behind one of Andrew Wyeth’s famous paintings in a small coastal town in Maine. Buy it here.
The Weeping Woman by Zoe Valdes. A dual timeline novel that tells the story of Dora Maar, the lover and muse of Pablo Picasso, along with the journey of a writer who is telling Dora’s story. Buy it here.
I Always Loved You by Robin Olivera. The story of Mary Cassatt and her tempestuous relationship with Edgar Degas while living in Paris. Buy it here.
The Bridal Chair by Gloria Goldreich. Set in Paris during World War II, this book tells the story of Ida Chagall and her relationship with her father Marc Chagall. Buy it here.
More Historical Fiction Books About Artists
The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci’s Italy by Laura Morelli. This dual timeline novel tells the story of the creation of da Vinci’s painting Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine and the story of the woman who saved it during World War Two. Buy it here.
The Stolen Lady A Novel Of World War II and the Mona Lisa by Laura Morelli. Another dual timeline novel which tells the story of the creation of the Mona Lisa by da Vinci and the story of the woman who had to hide it for protection at the beginning of World War Two. Buy it here.
The Giant: A Novel of Michelangelo’s David by Laura Morelli. This novel takes you back to Florence in 1500 to tell the story of the creation of one of the greatest sculptures, David. Buy it here.
The Agony & the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. This classis biographical fiction novel about Michelangelo clocks in at over 700 pages. But, it’s engaging, easy to read, and a classic for a reason. Buy it here.
Lust for Life by Irving Stone. This is another classic by Irving Stone and tells about the fascinating and tragic life of Vincent Van Gogh. Buy it here.
The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey. This novel tells the story of Gustav Klimt and his tumultuous love affair with Emilie Flöge. Buy it here.
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is the story of artist Masuji Ono and the contrasts in his life from painting physical beauty to working with the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War Two. Buy it here.
Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick. The story of Vincent Van Gogh and a woman named Rachel who are both fleeing past troubles and need each other to combat hopelessness. Buy it here.
Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese. A dual timeline story that tells the story of Adele Bloch-Bauer who had a passionate affair with Gustav Klimt and the story of Adele’s niece Maria who is living through the horrors of the Nazi invasion of Austria. Buy it here.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo. This is the story of Botticelli and his muse Simonetta who was immortalized in the painting, The Birth of Venus. Buy it here.
Oil & Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo by Stephanie Storey. This is the story of the nearly forgotten rivalry between a young Michelangelo and an aging da Vinci. Buy it here.
Do you know of anymore historical fiction book about artists that I should add to this list?