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Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X Paperback – 1 May 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158542336X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585423361
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 625,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"I've always had the most enormous curiosity about the legendary subject of Sargent's most famous and certainly most scandalous painting. Now Deborah Davis tells Madame X's extraordinary personal history, both before and after the notoriety that changed her life. I was fascinated."

"A stunner about a stunner." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Readers will enjoy this brisk, sometimes breathless account of the creation of the work the artist once called his best...A fascinating commentary on the evanescence of fame and beauty." --Kirkus Reviews
"An entertaining, observant novel about the gorgeous, enigmatic Madame X." --from Bustle.com's roundup of "11 Novels Every Art History-Lover Should Pick Up"
"A stunner about a stunner." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"The book's pace is lively and its breadth impressive." Houston Chronicle
"

About the Author

Deborah Davis is the author of "Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and his Black and White Ball" (Wiley, April 2006), and "Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X" (Tarcher/Putnam, 2003). Her most recent book is "The Secret Lives Of Frames: One Hundred Years of Art and Artistry" (Filapacchi, 2007).


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An engaging description of the evolution of a memorable portrait and the two people involved: the brilliant young artist J.S.Sargent, and the beautiful woman he invited to pose for him, Mme.Gautreau, 'Mme.X'.

The information related here about Mme.Gautreau, the wife of a banker, is surprising, and the extraordinary story of this picture has things to say about celebrity, and about the double-standards with which people sometimes look at pictures.

At the Paris Salon in 1884, Sargent's portrait of Mme.Gautreau (labelled 'Portrait of Mme.***') caused a storm, because of the way Sargent so frankly indicated the eroticism in the lady's startling beauty. Eroticism is everywhere: in the assertive angle of the head and torso, the blood-red lips, the tight black dress, and in the thick white geisha-like make-up covering her flesh (except for the glowing ear!)

Mme.Gautreau is irresistibly commanding in her allure. Sargent's brilliant depiction of the twist in Mme.Gautreau's right arm to display the inside of her elbow, is an almost overt invitation -and a masterstroke by the artist. Sargent made Mme.Gautreau a 'star' before the word had been invented.

The crowd at the exhibition cast their eyes over numerous pictures of naked 'slave girls', and unclothed 'concubines' without apparent disapproval. But when confronted by 'Mme.***', the cry was, "O! quel horreur!!!". What sort of woman was this ? The portrait was "a scandal" which filled the news.

Sargent was a painter of breathtaking skill, and also an artist of integrity. He frequently stated, "I paint what I SEE", and his wonderful portrait of Mme.Gautreau said nothing but the truth. Artist and sitter were well-matched.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved this. It kept me gripped from beginning to end.

It transported me to Paris and the not always glamorous world of the beautiful people, who enjoyed and exploited their notoriety while it lasted.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was recommended by an art historian. This puts the painting and its protagonists into full perspective. I am loaning my copy to friends but want it back!
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