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Unapproachable

Members of the Teen Advisory Group discuss Madame X in the galleries. Photograph by Emily Perreault.

My art teacher has a poster of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) in our classroom, so as soon as I saw the actual painting in the Met's galleries, I immediately recognized it.

Personally, I don't see a connection between the portrait of Madame X and my own experiences. She seems unfriendly, and I would imagine that she is the type of woman who could be found in an expensive restaurant or hotel. With this in mind, I gave Madame X the motto: "To be admired, but not approached."

Many people in Paris knew of Madame X—whose real name was Virginie Avegno Gautreau—because of her beauty, and this might have been a reason that John Singer Sargent wanted to paint her. Despite the controversy surrounding the painting at the Salon of 1884—it was considered quite scandalous—he said, "I suppose it is the best thing I have done" when he later sold the painting to the Met.

In my collage below, I cut small pieces of black paper to recreate Sargent's Madame X. The black paper cutouts symbolize the sharpness of Madame X's style and personality. I chose not to include her eyes in my work of art to emphasize the mysterious tone of Sargent's painting and his title for this work.

This is our last post about Madame X. Make sure to check back next week to read what we have to say about Washington Crossing the Delaware.

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