Regrets, I've Had a Few - Perspectives No. 318
Regrets, I've Had a Few
Have you ever started in on a painting, perhaps gotten partway done or completely finished, and then changed your mind about part of the work you had done? The fix to the problem is either to start completely over or to paint over the previous work. This repainting process is, undoubtedly, a fairly common situation among artists and if we are careful about the alterations, does no harm to the final picture. The Italian word for it, pentimento (meaning repentance), refers to an alteration to a painting resulting in a re-covering of a portion or all of a work.
The very well-known John Singer Sargent painting, Madame X, was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1884 in a different form than the one that we are used to seeing today. The original painting featured Madame Pierre Gautreau (Madame X) with one strap of her elegant black gown off her shoulder. The stunning portrait was highly controversial and damaged the reputation of the Madame and of Sargent as well. Sargent later "repented" by repainting the strap to rest in place on Madame Gautreau's shoulder. When donating the painting to the Metropolitan Museum in 1916, Sargent stipulated that the model's name be disguised, to reduce the scandal the painting had created.
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