John singer sargent madame x book
Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X by Deborah DavisThe subject of John Singer Sargents most famous painting was twenty-three-year-old New Orleans Creole Virginie Gautreau, who moved to Paris and quickly became the it girl of her day. A relative unknown at the time, Sargent won the commission to paint her; the two must have recognized in each other a like-minded hunger for fame.
Unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon, Gautreaus portrait generated the attention she craved-but it led to infamy rather than stardom. Sargent had painted one strap of Gautreaus dress dangling from her shoulder, suggesting either the prelude to or the aftermath of sex. Her reputation irreparably damaged, Gautreau retired from public life, destroying all the mirrors in her home.
Drawing on documents from private collections and other previously unexamined materials, and featuring a cast of characters including Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, Strapless is a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.
STRAPLESS: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X
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The subject had died the previous year. Research undertaken in showed that it was not only the sharp-nosed profile, ash-white skin and coral ears of ''Madame X'' that had caused a scandal when Sargent first exhibited the painting at the Paris Salon in Daringly, and with the sitter's consent, he had depicted Gautreau with one jeweled shoulder strap loosened to reveal naked flesh. The implication was that the lady might be available to men other than her dull and wealthy husband. A sketch for the portrait, in Tate Britain in London, shows that Sargent originally planned to do away with the strap altogether; the Met's portrait, hastily revised after the notorious Salon show, has two straps. Both are in place.
Today, John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Madame X is regarded as a brilliant and tasteful depiction of classical beauty and femininity—so it might shock you to learn that when the American artist first unveiled this painting in , all hell broke loose. Madame X was actually Madame Virginie Gautreau, an American expat whose beauty was much admired in her adopted French homeland.
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But who was the woman in the painting? Jason Farago investigates. She looks off to the right, staring out into the middle distance, her mouth shut tight, her dainty nose directed ever so slightly downward.
Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background. The scandal resulting from the painting's controversial reception at the Paris Salon of amounted to a temporary set-back to Sargent while in France,  though it may have helped him later establish a successful career in Britain and America. The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker, and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.