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Strapless: Madame X and the Scandal that Shocked Belle Epoque Paris

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Strapless: Madame X and the Scandal that Shocked Belle Epoque Paris Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The story behind the legendary John Singer Sargent painting that propelled the artist to international renown but condemned his subject to a life of public ridicule.

John Singer Sargent's Madame X is one of the world's best-known portraits. As the Metropolitan's most frequently requested painting for loans, it travels to museums around the globe. The image of "Madame X" decorates book and magazine covers, greeting cards and screen savers. She's even been immortalized as a Madame Alexander doll.

Few people, though, know the fascinating story behind the painting. "Madame X" was actually a twenty-three-year-old New Orleans Creole, Virginie Gautreau, who moved to Paris and quickly became the "it girl" of her day. All the leading artists wanted to paint her, but it was Sargent, a relative nobody, who won the commission. Gautreau and Sargent must have recognized in each other a like-minded hunger for fame.

Unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon, Gautreau's portrait did generate the attention she craved — but it led to infamy rather than stardom. Sargent had painted one strap of Gautreau's dress dangling from her shoulder, suggesting, to outraged Parisian viewers, either the prelude or the aftermath of sex. Her reputation irreparably damaged, Gautreau retired from public life, destroying all the mirrors in her home so she would never have to look at herself again.

Why had Sargent chosen to portray her in such a provocative manner? Was the painting, with the scandal it generated, the machination of a sexually conflicted man who desired a woman and a lifestyle he could never possess? Drawing on documents from private collections and other previously unexamined materials and featuring a cast of characters including Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, Strapless is an enthralling tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

Review:

"Compelling backstory of the painting that scandalized the 1884 Paris Salon....[A] brisk, sometimes breathless account....A fascinating commentary on the evanescence of fame and beauty." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Davis stiffly imports tangential figures...to deliver lusty intrigue. Regrettably, her diligent research yields scarcely a word from Amelie; thus, the model remains a strangely weightless heroine, gliding amid this cast of characters like a silent sphinx." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"With its intriguing set of circumstances, lively writing, and an eye for detail and nuance, the book offers art history, social commentary, and gossip. Recommended." Library Journal

Synopsis:

Drawing on myriad documents and featuring such personalities of the time as Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, this story of a famous painting by John Singer Sargent offers a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

Synopsis:

The subject of John Singer Sargent's most famous painting was twenty-three-year-old New Orleans Creole Virginie Gautreau, who moved to Paris and quickly became the "it girl" of her day. A relative unknown at the time, Sargent won the commission to paint her; the two must have recognized in each other a like-minded hunger for fame.

Unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon, Gautreau's portrait generated the attention she craved-but it led to infamy rather than stardom. Sargent had painted one strap of Gautreau's dress dangling from her shoulder, suggesting either the prelude to or the aftermath of sex. Her reputation irreparably damaged, Gautreau retired from public life, destroying all the mirrors in her home.

Drawing on documents from private collections and other previously unexamined materials, and featuring a cast of characters including Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, Strapless is a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

About the Author

Deborah Davis is a writer and veteran film executive who has worked as a story editor and story analyst for Warner Bros., Columbia TriStar, Disney, Miramax, and the William Morris Agency.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
La Louisiane 7
City of Light 25
A Professional Beauty 47
The Pupil 61
A Smashing Start 75
Brilliant Creatures 99
Heat and Light 111
His Masterpiece 123
The Flying Dutchman 137
Finishing Touches 147
Dancing on a Volcano 155
Le Scandale 177
Calculated Moves 187
A Woman of a Certain Age 203
A Man of Prodigious Talent 219
Twilight of the Gods 237
Afterword 257
Notes 263
Bibliography 283
Index 295
Acknowledgments 307

Product Details

ISBN:
9781585423361
Author:
Davis, Deborah
Publisher:
Tarcher
Subject:
General
Subject:
History - General
Subject:
World History-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
May 3, 2004
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
1400x1200
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Artists
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Individual Artists » Monographs
History and Social Science » Europe » France » Third Republic
History and Social Science » World History » General

Strapless: Madame X and the Scandal that Shocked Belle Epoque Paris Used Trade Paper
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$7.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Jeremy P. Tarcher - English 9781585423361 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Compelling backstory of the painting that scandalized the 1884 Paris Salon....[A] brisk, sometimes breathless account....A fascinating commentary on the evanescence of fame and beauty."
"Review" by , "Davis stiffly imports tangential figures...to deliver lusty intrigue. Regrettably, her diligent research yields scarcely a word from Amelie; thus, the model remains a strangely weightless heroine, gliding amid this cast of characters like a silent sphinx."
"Review" by , "With its intriguing set of circumstances, lively writing, and an eye for detail and nuance, the book offers art history, social commentary, and gossip. Recommended."
"Synopsis" by , Drawing on myriad documents and featuring such personalities of the time as Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, this story of a famous painting by John Singer Sargent offers a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.
"Synopsis" by ,
The subject of John Singer Sargent's most famous painting was twenty-three-year-old New Orleans Creole Virginie Gautreau, who moved to Paris and quickly became the "it girl" of her day. A relative unknown at the time, Sargent won the commission to paint her; the two must have recognized in each other a like-minded hunger for fame.

Unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon, Gautreau's portrait generated the attention she craved-but it led to infamy rather than stardom. Sargent had painted one strap of Gautreau's dress dangling from her shoulder, suggesting either the prelude to or the aftermath of sex. Her reputation irreparably damaged, Gautreau retired from public life, destroying all the mirrors in her home.

Drawing on documents from private collections and other previously unexamined materials, and featuring a cast of characters including Oscar Wilde and Richard Wagner, Strapless is a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

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