Everyone knows of the elegant portrait 'Madame X' by John Singer Sargent from 1884. However, does everyone know the backstory of its' fascinating American subject, Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau?
In 2004, Gioia Diliberto wrote a fantastic book in the historical fiction genre, 'I am Madame X' which took the facts of this fascinating woman and wove a story of what her life may have been like. I'm dusting off the bookshelves and giving away my copy to a reader. On Monday, October 18th I will make the decision and mail it off!
Virginie Gautreau was notorious in her day for her many love affairs as well as her sense of fashion (maybe the Paris Hilton of her time?). She was sought out by many of the most famous artists of the day to paint her portrait, including Sargent, in order to bask in some of her notoriety. Sargent actually painted 2 portraits of her; the famous one which caused the scandal in the black gown and one in a chaste white gown shown above, as well as numerous sketches which still survive.
Gautreau never survived the scandal over the famous portrait and mostly retreated from society, dying in 1915. Sargent sold the portrait shortly after her death in 1916 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, calling it the "the best thing I have ever done ".She was painted a few times after the Sargent portrait, most famously by Gustave Courtois in 1891, which sharply references Madame X but in virginal white, seen above.One last portrait, showing her famous profile, by Antonio De La Gandara in 1898 probably captured her essence even better than Sargent. It was Gautreau's favorite and mine as well and I'll end the topic with it.

Simply leave a comment for your chances to win a copy of the book with a way to get your address should random.org choose you. Please, US residents only. Good Luck!
The winner is lucky #13 - David Toms! I will be in touch with you shortly, Savoir Faire!