The Secret of Marie

Apr 18, 2016

Theodore-Robinson-xx-La-Debacle-xx-Ruth-Chandler-Williamson-Gallery-United-StatesThe Secret of Marie is the third book by former Altadena resident Rebecca Bricker. We first met Bricker after the publication of her debut work, Tales From Tavanti: An American Woman’s Mid-Life Adventure in Italy.

From nonfiction, Bricker leaps into a historical novel, “an art history mystery set in Monet’s Giverny.” Well, that tweaks our interest; recalling our visit to Giverny, even though two decades ago, still brings a smile to our face, and luscious memories of colors and shapes, stunning beauty and whimsy.

In The Secret of Marie, the book weaves a modern-day love story with the romantic tale of American Impressionist painter Theodore Robinson and his favorite model—a woman known only as Marie….”

From Bricker’s blog:

My first encounter with American Impressionist artist Theodore Robinson happened in 2004, when I was staying in Giverny, France — just down the road from Monet’s famous gardens — at a B&B that had been an 18th-century water mill.

Although Robinson (1852-1896) had been dead for more than century, he seemed very much alive to me during my stay at the old moulin. The mill and its surroundings had been the setting for a number of Robinson’s paintings when he was a prominent figure in Giverny’s artists’ colony in the late 1800s.

In the decade that followed, I often thought about Robinson and read about his life and art. Born in Vermont, he grew up in Evansville, Wisconsin, and studied art at the Chicago Academy of Design (before it became the Art Institute). He pursued his painting career in New York and eventually in Paris. During his Giverny years, he was befriended and mentored by Monet.




As I learned more about Robinson, I became intrigued with his favorite model—a Parisian woman known only as Marie. A model for other Impressionist artists as well, including Edgar Degas, Marie featured in a number of Robinson’s paintings between 1885 and 1892. Her profile is distinctive—Robinson renders her upturned nose and protruding upper lip with the attention of a man who knew her well. Except for one portrait of her sitting in a chair and holding a violin, Robinson always painted her in profile, as if shielding her from curious eyes. 

The mystery of Marie—in profile—leads to a surprising, and thrilling, discovery for Bricker. The Secret of Marie is the end of Bricker’s eleven-year journey.

On April 26, Bricker will share what her research revealed, discuss The Secret of Marie, and present a slide show and tips—for those interested in visiting Giverny. Books will be available for purchase.


Marie Cover


The Secret of Marie by Rebecca Bricker
Tuesday, April 26th, 7 p.m.
Altadena Main Library, 600 E. Mariposa St., Altadena 91001
Free event
For more info, visit
Or call 1.626.798.0833
Learn more at


Author Rebecca Bricker

Author Rebecca Bricker







Image, top right, Robinson’s La Débâcle, 1892, The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College, Claremont, California.

Image: Lady in Red, 1885, by Theodore Robinson, private collection.







Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena