I just got a library card from my local library. My first check out was Strapless: John Singer Sargent and The Fall of Madame X, and it was so wonderful. Whatever this genre is, it is just about my favorite to read, outside of novels. That genre being books that look at the art/literature of the time and then explicate the lives of the people surrounding it. Like in Strapless you don’t just get a description of the painting and people’s reactions to them, but you also get a biography of Sargent, Gautreau (Madame X), and other subjects of Sargent’s work, as well his friends and peer artists of Belle Epoque Paris.
I really do just love Sargent. And I love this painting so much, but still it isn’t even my favorite. I prefer Sargent’s painting of multiple people, usually women in one family like The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, which I have raved and ooohed over before, or a picture of a mother and daughter in white and red which I cannot find right now. Still Madame X is a gorgeous painting, and I cannot wait until I get to the go to the Met again and see it.
Another example of the genre I was talking about is Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939 by Katie Roiphe, which looks at married, committed, and adulterous couples in people associated with, and around the Bloomsbury group. My dad got me this book The Bolter about Idina Sackville, cousin of Vita Sackville-West, seems to be of a straight biography but I do love all Sackvilles/Edwardian people.
I also checked out Adam Bede by George Eliot, and I loved Middlemarch and Mill on the Floss was checked out. So that will be next on my summer reading list. Whoo!