John Singer Sargent

It is one thing to paint nudes, quite another to paint society ladies. Madame X might have opened the floodgates. Exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1884, the painting caused a scandal. Sargent had to paint over the dress: the strap falling down had been immodest.

It is all to do with timing. Gustave Courtois’s work of 1891 is less subtle, as well as less accomplished:

Boldini in 1885 was comparatively demure:

Ella Brooks Carter

Later, Boldini made a career of painting women in dresses they wore to society dos, but Sargent did not remain a portraitist. A gust of wind, 1886, is quite different, though I love her lips.

A street in Venice. It has been the mistake of some very great artists, from a quite natural reaction against the artificial Venice of bad painters, to concentrate exclusively on the Venice of the more humble campi, the little deserted rü, which they found more real, wrote Proust, but look at the man’s gaze:

A pity he did not paint more portraits. Here is Lady Agnew of Lochnaw:

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