JOHN SINGER SARGENT (FLORENCE, 1856 - 1925, LONDON)
MADAME GAUTREAU DRINKING A TOAST, c. 1882-1883
Oil on panel
32 x 41 cm (12 5/8 x 16 1/8 in.)
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Madame Pierre Gautreau, born Virginie Avegno (1859–1915), was Madame X, the statuesque sitter in Sargent’s most notorious portrait (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) (below). Critics considered the portrait in scandalously bad taste, and the sitter’s mother asked Sargent to withdraw the painting from the Salon of 1884, which he refused to do. This much smaller and more intimate painting was done a year earlier, and was given by Sargent to Madame Gautreau’s mother. More on this painting
John Singer Sargent, (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)
Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), c. 1883–84
Oil on canvas
82 1/8 x 43 1/4in. (208.6 x 109.9cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name. More on this painting
Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau (née Avegno, 29 January 1859 – 25 July 1915) was born in New Orleans but grew up from the age of eight in France, where she became a Parisian socialite known for her beauty. She occasionally posed as a model for notable artists. She is most widely known as the subject of John Singer Sargent's painting Portrait of Madame X (1884). It created a social scandal when shown at the Paris Salon.
Virginie Avegno became one of Paris's conspicuous beauties. She attracted much admiration due to her elegance and style. She also attracted much amorous attention that she did not discourage, and her extramarital affairs were so well known that they became the subject of tabloid scandal sheets and gossip handbills. One of her lovers was a Dr. Pozzi. Sargent, anxious to popularize himself by capitalizing on Virginie's notorious reputation, asked Dr. Pozzi to introduce him to Virginie, which the doctor did
Virginie married Pierre Gautreau, a French banker and shipping magnate. She had a daughter named Louise Gautreau (1879–1911).
John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American artist, considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury. During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.
His parents were American, but he was trained in Paris prior to moving to London. Sargent enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter, although not without controversy and some critical reservation; an early submission to the Paris Salon, his "Portrait of Madame X", was intended to consolidate his position as a society painter, but it resulted in scandal instead. From the beginning his work was characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism. In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air. He lived most of his life in Europe. More John Singer Sargent
Gustave-Claude-Etienne Courtois, (1852–1923)
Portrait de Madame Gautreau, c. 1891
This work was painted seven years after Sargent's portrait, and the falling strap and décolletage raised nary an eyebrow.
Gustave-Claude-Étienne Courtois ( 18 May 1852 in Pusey, Haute-Saône – 1923 in Paris) was a French painter, a representative of the academic style of art. Courtois was born to an unwed mother who was devoted to him. Early in life, Courtois revealed an interest in art and entered the École municipale de dessin in Vesoul.
He taught painting at Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Académie Colarossi, Paris. His paintings can be seen in the art galleries of Besançon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Luxembourg. He was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. More on Gustave-Claude-Étienne Courtois
José Cruz Herrera, (1890-1972)
Desdemona, c. 1942
Oil on canvas
136 X 103cm (53 9/16 X 40 9/16 IN.)
Desdemona is a character in William Shakespeare's play Othello (c. 1601–1604). Shakespeare's Desdemona is a Venetian beauty who enrages and disappoints her father, a Venetian senator, when she elopes with Othello, a black man several years her senior. When her husband is deployed to Cyprus in the service of the Republic of Venice, Desdemona accompanies him. There, her husband is manipulated by his ensign Iago into believing she is an adulteress, and, in the last act, she is murdered by her estranged spouse.
José Cruz Herrera (1 October 1890 – 11 August 1972) was a Spanish painter who concentrated principally on genre works and landscape art. He worked in Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, France and especially Morocco, where he lived for much of his life in Casablanca.
His talent was soon apparent and he began formal training in Cádiz. He continued his studies at the School of Fine Arts in Madrid before being awarded a grant to study in Paris and Rome in 1915. He subsequently received several more awards. He concentrated on genre works and landscapes, but he is best known as an orientalist painter, with a particular faculty for producing atmospheric depictions of scenes of everyday life in Morocco.
Cruz Herrera travelled to Montevideo in Uruguay and Buenos Aires in Argentina in 1922. He went to Morocco in 1929. He subsequently established a studio at Neuilly-sur-Seine, just outside Paris, and contributed to collective exhibitions in 1934, 1935 and 1936 at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He also exhibited solo at various times in Madrid, Barcelona and London in 1912, Antwerp in 1931, Casablanca in 1933, and Paris in 1934.
After the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, he returned to Morocco. The following year Spain awarded Cruz Herrera a Knight's Cross in the Order of Isabella the Catholic, followed by a knighthood in the Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise in 1958. He died on 11 August 1972 in Casablanca but his remains were transferred back to La Línea to be buried there. More on José Cruz Herrera
COLIN, Alexandre-Marie, (b. 1798, Paris, d. 1873, Paris)
Othello and Desdemona, 1829
Oil on canvas
51 x 61 cm
Colin may first have become interested in depicting Shakespearean subjects when he visited London in 1824 in the company of Delacroix and Bonington. The Othello and Desdemona is a bravura work, faithful to the text, and full of energy and colour.
Colin entered the École des Beaux Arts in 1814, first as a pupil of Girodet, but then joining Guérin's studio in 1816, in which the young Delacroix had also enrolled. He and Delacroix both attracted the attention of their teachers, winning drawing and composition prizes.
Known as a great portraitist, he portrayed well-known figures and also depicted romantic subjects, views of Italy, and scenes illustrating the struggle for independence in Greece. His religious and historical paintings are characterised by a style based on a careful study of the old masters, while his genre pieces are vigorous and lifelike. More on Alexandre-Marie Colin
Antonio Mancini, (1852–1930)
Resting, circa 1887
60.9 × 100 cm (24 × 39.4 in)
Art Institute of Chicago
Mancini worked at the forefront of the Verismo movement, an indigenous Italian response to 19th-century Realist aesthetics. His usual subjects included children of the poor, juvenile circus performers, and musicians he observed in the streets of Naples.
In 1881, Mancini suffered a disabling mental illness. He settled in Rome in 1883 for twenty years, then moved to Frascati where he lived until 1918. During this period of Mancini's life, he was often destitute and relied on the help of friends and art buyers to survive. After the First World War, his living situation stabilized and he achieved a new level of serenity in his work. Mancini died in Rome in 1930 and buried in the Basilica Santi Bonifacio e Alessio on the Aventine Hill. More on Antonio Mancini
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