Madam X's Tiffany Room
Inspired by John Singer Sargent
Painting with The Masters
Art within Art Series
11 X 14 Oil Painting on Canvas
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Madame X or Portrait of Madame X , 1874, is the informal title of a portrait painting by
John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, wife
of Pierre Gautreau. 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. I thought the Tiffany Room
would portray a lot of her personality.
Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. It is a study in
opposition. 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 ofthe subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.My model looks noting like Sargent's and I decided to make her a redhead opposed to dark hair.I could not get good reference to to the dress so I basically designed this one from what I could see in the photos. He basic pose it that of Sargent's Madam X painting.
Clothes make the woman in these portraits. They are fashion plates on a grand scale, reflecting
the Salon crowd as it wanted to see itself - in fashion. Compare Madame X and it's obvious how
For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting's controversial reception at the Paris Salon of
1884 amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France.
Displayed in the huge jury-selected exhibition, the Salon, in 1884, it horrified Parisians so much that
the ignominy drove Sargent across the Channel to take refuge in Britain. Of course, it was the making
of him. He always kept Madame X in his studio. Its whiff of naughtiness generated demand for his portraits
with a fashionable British and American public.