Portrait of Madame X” (detail), 1884, John Singer Sargent.

Is it a woman? a chimera, the figure of a unicorn rearing as on a heraldic coat of arms or perhaps the work of some oriental decorative artist to whom the human form is forbidden and who, wishing to be reminded of woman, has drawn the delicious arabesque? No, it is none of these things, but rather the precise image of a modern woman scrupulously drawn by a painter who is a master of his art”. (Judith Gautier, via laclefdescoeurs)

John Singer Sargent (American; 1856–1925)
Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon
Oil on canvas
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama