Michelle's Reviews > Strapless

Strapless by Deborah   Davis
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's review
Oct 31, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010

Fascinating book about the John Singer Sargent portrait "Madame X" and the woman behind it, Amelie Gautreau ("the unpaintable beauty and hopeless laziness of Madame Gautreau"). Not only is the time period fascinating (love the Belle Epoque) but the cast of characters seem more from fiction than non-fiction. It's mind-boggling that this portrait caused so much scandal with its loose strap when Parisians had infidelity hours (4-5 - get your affairs on!) Not to mention, I'd think Sargent's "Dr. Pozzi at Home" work would've caused a much bigger stir. Also interesting is how the portrait of Mme Gautreau eventually developed a cult following just as she was starting to fade from the spotlight (read: she was aging). Ultimately when he sold it to the Met, he erased her name from the title and Madame Gautreau became Madame X, denying her the chance to be forever immortalized, which is all she really ever wanted. Kind of sad, really, especially since she spent so much time and money trying to get new portraits made to replace this one.
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