Monday, February 7, 2011

The Stories We Tell: Desire, Part III

The Redhead an open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla

The story of desire can be as chaste as Botticelli's Venus or as voyeuristic as Susanna and the Elders. One of the most famous paintings about lustful temptation is the fully-clothed Madame X by John Singer Sargent. Sargent saw it as his ticket to fame and multiple portrait commissions; the subject, Virginie Amelie Avegano Gautreau saw it as a celebration of her status as the "It Girl" of Paris. Parisians, on the other hand, saw it as quite shocking, a much too graphic invitation to regard the socially elite Ms. Gautreau as a sex object.
After its display, Sargent left Paris never to return as a resident; Virginie slipped from her social pedestal and because something of a recluse. Sargent later recovered and achieved the fame and commissions he sought and the painting has become acclaimed as one of the best portraits ever painted.
My redhead may have something of Gautreau's pose and cool demeanor and to me, a bit of her rather icy allure.


  1. Très belle lumière sur cette peinture... Bises

  2. Shirley, this is a lovely portrait! So soft an alluring! Beautifully painted!
    Congrats on your new studio space! Looks marvelous and I know you will enjoy it!

  3. Nice painting. 'A Room with a View' was on PBS Masterpiece Theater last night. It was very well done and this painting and your comments remind me of it.

  4. Thank you, Martine, Judy and Helen. I like that it all reminds you of Room with a View.
    I can't wait to start painting in my new space.

  5. Thank you very much, Christine and Douglas.


Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...