Portrait of Madame X

~ A portrait of Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau by John Singer Sargent

Behold, she who would not be named although the world knows her to be Virginie. The painting itself is profound. Her deathly white skin and low-cut dress reveals, yet the blackness of her satin dress with jewel straps conceals.

The dark and unearthly brown serves to bring out further the pale flesh of its subject. And as with the contrast between the background, dress, and skin, her body faces the viewer but her head is turned away. It is as though we are doomed to see only the side of her that she wishes to reveal, a face half-hidden from the painting to the viewer.

Her right arm is twisted and extended behind her to render support upon a low table. The tension of her posture enhances her elegant figure for all to see.

She is the very embodiment of lady death. Aristocratic, mysterious, bold, and erotic. By the Goddess Diana and the Sirens of seduction she brings with herself death to those of us who are still living. And thus was the fate of artist and model.

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