John Singer Sargent’s sexual persuasion remains the subject of much speculation, yet his passion for women – particularly the well-clothed and the well-heeled – has never been in dispute. But who exactly were these astonishing ladies?

Four of them are singled out in this handsome book. Three are relative unknowns, but the fourth – “Mrs Jack”, of Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum fame – serves as the centrepiece to a fascinating piece of research that lifts the lid on their private lives, revealing illicit passions, society scandals, gossip and skulduggery that belie their steady gaze on canvas.

Risking societal condemnation, these adventurous, headstrong, iron-willed women have been immortalised in art. They are now immortalised in text.

Brilliant biography for the artistically inclined.

 

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