Madame X, John Singer Sargent’s most famous and scandalous portrait, caused an immediate furor when Sargent unveiled it at the 1884 Paris Salon. The subject’s bold pose, provocative dress, and decadent pallor shocked the public, and the critics panned the picture, smashing Sargent’s dream of a Paris career.
Even before Sargent painted her portrait, Virginie Gautreau’s reputation for promiscuity and showy self-display made her the subject of vicious Paris gossip. In this remarkable novel, the author tells Virginie’s story, drawing on the sketchy facts of the notorious beauty’s life to recreate her tempestuous personality, the captivating milieu of Belle Epoch Paris, and the struggle between artist and model to control the painting that would change their lives and affect the course of art history.
Written by Amy from Washington, DC
on April 12th, 2011
Book Rating: 5/5
I absolutely fell in love with this book. The narrator is fantastic with her accents and the vivid imagery puts the listener in the moment of the story. I don't speak or understand a lick of French, but it's so beautiful to listen and though it took me a while to catch on to all the names and locations, I found it totally worth it! I'm now interested in John Singer Sargent's art!
Gioia Diliberto has written biographies of Jane Addams, Hadley Hemingway, and Brenda Frazier, as well as the critically acclaimed novel "I Am Madame X, " based on the life of Virginie Gautreau. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.