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Madame X (Madame Gautreau)

Painting, 1884, 208.6×109.9 cm

Description of the artwork «Madame X (Madame Gautreau)»

"Madame X" written in 1884, surprisingly continues to haunt the imagination of even the most discerning audience. For nearly a hundred years at the Metropolitan Museum (Sargent sold the painting to the Museum in 1916, a year after the death of the model) a little distant, mysterious and fascinating Madame Gotra has earned the proud title of "American Mona Lisa. What was the infamous "Madame X," has never been a secret. But what was she like?

Virginie amélie Avegno was born in 1859 in New Orleans in a family of white Creoles. Her father was killed in the battle of Shiloh during the Civil war, and four years later "brain fever" claimed the life of the younger brother of the girl, and then her mother decided to move to his native France.

After the horrors of the war Paris seemed to them a Paradise. The main purpose of the mother was successfully to give Amelie married the banker Pierre Gotra (who was twice as old girls) was suitable party.

Madame Gotra was not canonical beauty, but it possessed some special natural magnetism and attractiveness. Her main pride was incredibly pale skin, natural color which she stressed powder and rumored to be supported, by taking arsenic. Virginie knew how to charm and delight, but Creole origin did not allow her to get into the highest circles of the Parisian Beau Monde. For a long time she remained a lady of the night", while John singer Sargent decided to paint her portrait.

One of the preliminary sketches to the portrait of the heroine's dress was Flirty lowered one shoulder. And this seemingly minor detail in conjunction with wedding ring caused a scandal at the Paris Salon in 1884. According to critics, it was a blatant hint that a married woman may graciously accept the advances of other men.

After Sargent went to London, and the dust settled, Madame Gotra tried unsuccessfully to regain the lost status. But she had to settle for a midlevel functionaries, sometimes accompanying her to the Opera. After a while Virginie Gotra ceased to appear in society. It was said that with the advent of old age the former beauty was removed from the walls of his house all the mirrors and began to go out only at night.

Author: Eugene Sidelnikov
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Impressionism, Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1884

Size: 208.6×109.9 cm

Artwork in selections: 99 selections