Sargent painted it without the presence, but with the permission, of Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, a socialite who was known for her daring fashion choices. Sargent wanted to expand his showing presence & intended the portrait for this purpose.
The original painting, however, was met with ridicule & astonishment. In it, Mrs. Gautreau's right dress strap was falling down her shoulder & this became something of a scandal. After the showing Sargent repainted the strap to its current position & then stashed the painting away for over thirty years.
He later sold it to The Met with the stipulation that its model's name not be mentioned, saying; "I suppose it's the best thing I've done". The Met titled it Madame X & has had it on display ever since.
|Sargent & Madame X|
I also think Mr. Gautreau is a lucky man!