||The Gilded Age of the United States—a time of dazzling prosperity and decorative opulence at the close of the nineteenth century —inspired an equally extravagant artistic outpouring, particularly in portraiture of high-society women. Depicting women dressed in lush ball gowns, with regal bearing and beguiling expressions, these portraits were acquired in large numbers by the French government of the era. Paintings by celebrated American artists such as John White Alexander, Thomas Eakins, William T. Dannat, and John Singer Sargent and photographs taken by Gertrude Käsebier, George Henry Seeley, Edward Steichen, and Clarence H. White remain in French public collections today, and they are the subject of the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny exhibition Portrait of a Lady. This accompanying volume, with texts in both English and French, includes eighty full-color reproductions of these portraits and provides critical insight to the varied representations of femininity in art. |Portrait of a Lady brings a new perspective to the Gilded Age: a period of fruitful exchange between French and American artists, between painting and photography, between tradition and avant-garde—all linked to the myth of “woman,” a myth that is both eternal and constantly changing.