I Am Madame X

I Am Madame X

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
Follows the life of Virginie Gautreau, the subject of John Singer Sargent's controversial portrait "Madame X," from her Creole youth and flight to France during the American Civil War, to her marriage to a prominent banker.

Blackwell North Amer
The life of Virginie Gautreau, the notorious beauty of Madame X, John Singer Sargent's most famous and scandalous portrait, provides inspiration for this absorbing and intriguing novel.
In this novel, Gioia Diliberto tells Virginie's story, drawing on the sketchy facts of Virginie's life to re-create her tempestuous personality and the captivating milieu of nineteenth-century Paris. Born in New Orleans to two of Louisiana's prominent Creole families and raised at Parlange, her grandmother's lush plantation. Virginie fled to France with her mother and sister during the Civil War. The family settled in Paris among other expatriate Southerners and hoped, through their French ancestry, to insinuate themselves into high society. They soon were absorbed into the fascinating and wealthy world of grand ballrooms, dressmakers' salons, luxurious country estates, and artists' ateliers. Because of Virginie's striking appearance and vivid character, her mother pinned the family's hopes for social acceptance on her daughter, who became a "professional beauty" and married a French banker. Even before Sargent painted her portrait, Virginie's reputation for promiscuity and showy self-display made her the subject of vicious Paris gossip.
I Am Madame X is a compulsively readable immersion in Belle Epoque Paris. It is also the story of a great work of art, illuminating the struggle between Virginie and Sargent as they fought to control the outcome of a painting that changed their lives and affected the course of art history.

& Taylor

Follows the life of Virginie Gautreau, the subject of John Singer Sargent's famous and controversial portrait, from her Creole heritage and flight to France during the American Civil War, to her troubled adolescence and marriage to a prominent banker.

Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2003
ISBN: 9780743211550
Branch Call Number: Fiction Diliberto
Characteristics: p. cm


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Jun 23, 2016

I read this for the SAM book club. It was fun to learn the story behind the Madame X painting. One of the craziest things I learned was that there were laws regulating female dress in the 1800s. By law, women in France were not allowed to dress like men. Quality of writing was OK, which is why I gave it 3 stars.

May 27, 2016

8 out of 10. Enjoyed this a lot. Had previously read a non-fiction book about Sargent, this painting and Gautreau, so was interested when I saw there was a novel. Stayed pretty close to what I read in the non-fiction, but was more focused on Gautreau.

Jun 20, 2015

I picked this up by chance as a "Staff Pick" and I really enjoyed it...and I love novels written in the first person.
I wish readers who review books would NOT give away the story....ugh. ugh. So self important!

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 05, 2015

The woman who posed for John Singer Sargent's Portrait of Madame X was the twenty-three year old Louisiana-born Virginie Gautreau. A gem of Belle Époque Paris, she married at a young age, and attracted every kind of attention with her unusual beauty and her daring fashion sense. In the style of Girl With a Pearl Earring, Diliberto recreates Virginie's life and times, and brings to life her troubled but stimulating relationship with the artist who immortalized her.


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