Madame X, Portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau by John Singer Sargent
Madame X by John Singer Sargent

Madame X, Portait of Madame Pierre Gautreau

Madame X, Portait of Madame Pierre Gautreau c1884 by Italian Born American Painter John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925); considered to be the leading portrait painter of his generation.

This is the infamous portrait John Singer Sargent did of Madame Pierre Gautreau; that caused such a stir in Paris when it was shown at the Salon; causing Sargent to leave Paris and go to London to continue his career.

By today’s standards, this just looks like young women in an elegant off shoulder plunging neck black evening dress, with gold chain straps that have embedded diamonds; as she holds a black fan in her left hand, while standing by a table; that being said though, this is not the original painting.

In the original painting he had one of the straps dropping off of her shoulder, and that with all the other elements of the painting in 1884 it was considered scandalous, as it was thought to be revealing much to much and hinting to the ladies indiscreet nature.

This train of thought of course went hand in hand with the type of life style Miss Gautreau lead; as she was the gossip of Paris with the various affairs she had with the affluent men of her time; especially with Dr. Pozzi; who Sargent convinced to introduce him to her, and that led to the portrait; with the result of Sargent having to leave Paris.

Sargent then repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for more than thirty years, until he sold it to the Metropolitan Museum, considering it to be his best work and asked that the museum conceal the name of the woman posing in the portrait.

This is a remastered digital art old masters reproduction of a public domain image that is available for purchase as a canvas print online.

Info Below Derived From Wikipedia.org

John Singer Sargent was an American expatriate artist, considered the “leading portrait painter of his generation” for his evocations of Edwardian-era luxury.

He created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings.

His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.

Born in Florence to American parents, he was trained in Paris before moving to London, living most of his life in Europe.

In the 1880s he made an early submission to the Paris Salon of his Madame X Portrait c1884, which the intent of consolidating his position as a society painter in Paris; but instead the painting resulted in a scandal.

The Madame X Portrait was of a leading Socialite, Madame Pierre Gautreau dressed in a black plunging neck evening dress with gold diamond chain shoulder straps, that tightly caressed her waist.

For the times, it suggested to many Parisians, an indiscreet posing in revealing attire and provoked a storm of outrage, forcing Sargent to leave the country.

The following year Sargent departed for England where he continued a successful career as a portrait artist; and enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter.

From the beginning, Sargent’s work was characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush; which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality.

His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism.

In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plain air.

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