Wednesday, January 7, 2015

All Reproductions Are Not Equal


Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)

Which Madame X is the correct Madame X?

Google image search is a wonderful thing. I get why we all love it. But if you are interested in accuracy, there are some compelling reasons to become a more sophisticated searcher.Above you can see a reproduction of John Singer Sargent's "Madame X"  from 1883-84, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum's own image is on the left.

On the right you can see a photo collage called "18 Madames X"  created from the top hits of a Google image search.   Which of those hits would you have chosen? 

Notice not only the many different color casts, but in the Metropolitan reproduction, there is great subtlety in the shading of the skin and the painting is not cropped, thus the relationship between the placement of the figure to the painting as a whole is how Sargent intended it to be seen.

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