Paris Salon of 1884  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
Paris Salons

When the painting Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent first appeared at the Paris Salon of 1884, people were shocked and scandalized; the sitter's mother requested that Sargent withdraw the painting from the exhibition. Sargent refused, saying he had painted her "exactly as she was dressed, that nothing could be said of the canvas worse than had been said in print of her appearance". Later, Sargent overpainted the shoulder strap to raise it up and make it look more securely fastened. He also changed the title, from the original Portrait de Mme ***, to Madame X — a name more assertive, dramatic and mysterious, and, by accenting the impersonal, giving the illusion of the woman archetype.



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