Blondes May Have More Fun…
But redheads are muse playthings for painters the world around (which may explain why I’ve always wanted to be a redhead) but I digress.
Nicole Kidman has always been (in my humble opinion) one of the most stunning redhead’s in Hollywood. For years I’ve longed to have skin as perfected as hers. She’s flawlessly beautiful and so statuesque. I remember seeing her once up close at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago, she was wearing high heels — and she already towers at 6-feet tall. She looked like a Greek goddess, I kid you not. *sigh*
As muses go, Nicole has had her fair share of time in the muse spotlight. Here, she teams with Steven Meisel for Vogue, they went about recreating the work of one of my all-time favorite American portrait artists, John Singer Sargent. The results? Nothing short of spectacular. A wee history lesson for you. The real Madame X was a woman by the name of Madame Gautreau (1859-1915)who’s reputation was apparently destroyed as a result of the painting. Now considered one of his best works, Madame X was surrounded in controversy for being over-the-top erotic when it was first shown publicly. When it was unveiled for the first time at the Salon of 1884, it was considered highly offensive by critics and the elite as a result of its blatant sexual suggestiveness —notably her pose, the pallor of her skin and the fact that one of her dress straps was *gasp* shown off shoulder. One notable critique of the time read:
“In an exhibition wherein paintings of nudes were commonplace, that of Madame Gautreau in her black evening dress was considered scandalously erotic.”
Like his contemporary, artist Édouard Manet, Sargent pushed at the boundaries of convention in his work, but more within the establishment. Sargent bristled at all of the criticism he received about the painting in Paris finding it to be outlandish, but he did make a small concession and later repainted it so that the shoulder strap was ON Madame Gautreau’s shoulder instead of off. My, the battles that have been undertaken for the love of art.
Here are my three favorites from the John Singer-Sargent recreations that Steven Meisel undertook with Nicole Kidman. Having seen these paintings in person, I must say I do understand. His work radiates with sensuality. It’s almost embarrassing to look at them for too long.
But look, you must.
Madame X, 1884
Lady Agnew, 1893
and, Mrs Charles E. Inches, 1887