This is the most well-known painting by John Singer Sargent. It is also the most controversial.
The original painting was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1884. It caused a scandal, which compelled Sargent to repaint a part of the painting (the strap of the dress) and changed its title.
For this body painting reproduction, the strap of the dress was painted as in the original painting (before Sargent repainted it).
The model for this piece identify herself with this piece. In her own words:
“Sargent’s work in general has such a uniformity of excellence. There is a realism about his portraits, yet there remains a fleeting sense of Romanticism. This period in music is very dear to me as well; the art’s zenith, the death and transfiguration of the Romantic era (leading up to the effects of WWI on all forms of art) have always kept a particular fascination in me.
To become Madame X — Gautreau’s beauty, provocative dress and studied indifference, her rumored affairs — would be, in a sense, to vicariously assume that form, to have lived in that time, if only for a moment. “
Model: Nephelle Milos