The Prix du Cercle Montherlant – Académie des beaux-arts 2020 is awarded to the work Courbet. La vie à tout prix by Valérie Bajou published by Cohen & Cohen.
Valérie Bajou signs here a reference monograph on the life and work of the painter, including the latest discoveries as well as recently restored works. She has endeavoured to draw a very nuanced portrait of the artist who knew how to stage herself so well, handling scandal and provocation while paradoxically preserving a solitary and secret life.
Initially a curator at the Musée d’Orsay and then at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, Valérie Bajou was curator at the Château de Versailles for 19th century painting. Author of a thesis on Fantin-Latour, she published a monograph on Frédéric Bazille in 1993, a book on Eugène Carrière in 1998, a monograph, Monsieur Ingres in 1999, and, in 2002, the inventory after the death of the painter Antoine Jean Gros. A specialist in 19th century French painting, she has taken part in several exhibitions in this field; she also teaches at the Ecole du Louvre.
Since 2016, the Prix du Cercle Montherlant rewards the selected work with 10,000 euros. The latter is then divided between the author (8,000 euros) and the publisher (2,000 euros); it is entirely financed by Mr. Jean-Pierre Grivory, Chairman and CEO of the company « Parfums Salvador Dali ».