SARGENT, John Singer
(b. 1856, Firenze, d. 1925, London)

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)

1883-84
Oil on canvas, 209 x 110 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Madame Pierre Gautreau (née Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859-1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent painted the portrait without a commission. When thirty years later the artist sold it to the Metropolitan, he asked that the museum disguise the sitter's name.

The painting lacks the bravura brushwork of many of Sargent's major paintings, partly because of the many reworkings, but the elegant pose and outline of the figure, recalling his debt to Velázquez, make it one of his most striking canvases.