Saturday, March 05, 2011
Master Copy: My rendition of Sargent
My replica of Sargent's study!"Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast." Oil, 18x24
The process of replicas is really calming. Maybe I've found a new type of meditation?
Madame Gautreau Drinking a Toast was a preliminary study to Sargent's acclaimed "Madame X" painting which currently resides at the Metropolitan Museum (which I've visited multiple times.) I chose to replicate the study rather than the final painting because his exploration of colour and loose strokes are more interesting to me. The fleshtones are warmer in the study and he emphasizes them with a velvety darkness. The finer details of the face are painted tightly but he lets loose with lyrical flowers on the left (are they roses?)
Sargent cares for this painting as it was not commissioned by Gautreau - He requested to paint her. Gautreau was a French socialite and well known. Sargent informed his friend via letter why he was so inclined to paint her, "I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think that she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty." How romantic! Sargent's description of her skin is noteworthy, "Do you object to people who are fardees to the extent of being uniform lavender or blotting paper colour all over? If so you would not care for my sitter. But she has the most beautiful lines and if the lavender or chlorate-of-potash-lozenge colour be pretty in itself I shall be more than pleased." It's somewhat funny her color was his main concern because when he unveiled "Madame X" to the public critics said he made her look undead. It was received so poorly Sargent was practically driven out of Paris. In the original painting Gautreau's dress strap had fallen down her arm which nearly ruined her reputation and drove her to tears. Despite the terrible reception of his new masterpiece he still hung the portrait up in every painting studio he had until the Metropolitan requested to purchase it.
As you can see I got carried away with the story behind the final painting.