I Am Madame X

I Am Madame X - Gioia Diliberto With this book I once again traveled to 19th century Paris. One of personal favorite periods of history in terms of art, artists and the cultural revolution that was taking place. The painting of Madame X by John Singer Sargent was unveiled at the Paris Salon of 1884. Being accustomed to the negative critique of the “new” art it was no surprise that this painting caused an uproar among critics. However, the scandalous and provocative subject also shocked the public (and put an end to Mr. Sargent’s career as an artist in Paris). The mysterious Madame X was modeled by Virginie Gautreau, herself as scandalous and promiscuous as the painting.

Although this is definitely a work of fiction it is obvious that Diliberto is familiar with the scant amount of actual history known about Virginie Gautreau. She fleshes the character out very well (no pun intended). As much as I enjoyed my trip back in time to Paris I was equally, if not more so, enthralled with the post civil war description of life in Louisiana. The flavour of that time and the voices of the characters were excellent. A very good read, particularly for fans of works by Tracy Chevalier or Susan Vreeland. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but putting words to a picture makes one heck of a good read.