19 November 2012

Loves: Madame X

I ventured to The Met on saturday with a friend & sat for a bit in front of one of my favourite paintings, Sargent's Madame X. I have always been drawn to this particular painting because of its simplicity and elegance. Sitting in front of it this weekend I realised also how inherently sexy it is.

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
There is something so sensual in the way Sargent paints these upper crust ladies... Something spontaneous and breathless about them. My friend mentioned how the redness of Madame's ear makes her feel alive, & I couldn't agree more. It seems to hint at the blood coursing through her veins. So much of her skin is bare, & the turn of her head revealing her throat is incredibly intimate & trusting. I think it is a very erotic piece.

I also think Mr. Gautreau is a lucky man!