Here’s another blast from the past for my moonshine grid friends… I wrote this for The Trifecta Writing Challenge last year, about one of my favorite obsessions… enjoy.
Amélie adjusted the strap and tried to stand still. She was getting tired, but more so bored. “Madame, please try to stand straighter. I’m almost finished. You will be the toast of all Paris soon.” She liked the painting, although not sure of the pose. And why did he dwell on the color of her skin so? She was one of the most sought after beauties of the day, and was looking forward to the Salon of 1884.
Varnishing Day came, and Le Gaulois had given John a favorable review. Fourcald called the painting “remarkable”.
She stepped from the carriage, dressed for the occasion. Congratulations and praise sure to come. But, that was not to be the case. For Painting #2150 in Gallery 31 was to be the cause of ruined reputations and changed lives that day. Instead of words like “superbe” and “magnifique” the shouts from the crowd were “détestable”, “clown”, “harlot”, “monstrueux”. Not at all what was expected, and the reviews in the days to come were scathing. All for a strap and the color of too much bare skin.
After the Salon, the artist did not show the painting publicly for 20 years. Madame Virginie Amélie Gautreau went into seclusion for the rest of her life.
Thirty-two years later, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, would buy one of the most famous portraits ever painted. Madame had died in Paris the year before. John Singer Sargent had become one of the most famous artists of his time. A stipulation of sale, was that the painting not bear her name, but be called “Madame X”.