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Peta's Review

Chloé is to Melbourne what the Bridge is to Sydney.” (Peter Graeme, 1945)

Having a drink with Chloé is always on the itinerary whenever I visit Melbourne.  Who is Chloe, you ask? Chloé is the famous nude portrait which has graced the walls of the infamous Young and Jackson Hotel since 1908. Measuring over 8 ft tall, Chloé cannot be ignored.  And to my untrained artistic eye, she is beautiful.

Painted by the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre in 1875, Chloé arrived in Australia in 1879 and was subsequently purchased by a Dr Thomas Fitzgerald. Upon Fitzgerald's death in 1908, the painting was purchased at auction by Henry Figsby Young, owner of the Young and Jackson Hotel, who installed the painting in the hotel’s saloon bar, now referred to as Chloé’s Bar.

Chloé has been described as perhaps Australia’s most famous painting, and a nude version of the Mona Lisa. The painting depicts the naiad from Mnasyle et Chloé, a poem by the eighteenth-century French poet André Chénier. The model for the painting has been shrouded in mystery and the subject of much speculation. In his memoir Confessions of a Young Man (1886), the Irish writer George Moore included an anecdote about a Parisian artist model named Marie, a young woman he claimed was “Lefebvre’s Chloé.”  And it is this observation from which Katrina Kell creates her novel about this famous painting, and its enigmatic model, Marie.

Anyone who loves art, history and intrigue, will love Kell’s story of the young woman who found a way to survive during a period of bloody revolution, and to defy class boundaries and convention. Kell has done extensive research in order to provide a narrative for Marie, the now infamous Chloé.  Do visit her next time you are in Melbourne!

If you are interested in further reading about Chloe and her arrival in Australia, I suggest Katrina Kell’s article, ‘Evanescence of an Artist’s Model: Jules Lefebvre’s Chloé’, at URL

Publishers Reviews

A riveting novel based on the true story of the brave, enigmatic young woman who modelled for one of Australia's most famous paintings.