John Singer Sargent’s studio at 31/33 Tite Street, in the Chelsea area of London. He lived and worked there from 1885 on.
“Peter Warlock the composer lived on the same street as did Oscar Wilde and Whistler. Mark Twain was nearby on his stay in London. Turner lived around the corner. Milne - the Winnie the Pooh creator walked down Tite Street on his way to school as a boy.” John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery
The model here is a young socialite, Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, an American expatriate who became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She caught the eye of several artists including Sargent who anticipated that a portrait of Gautreau would garner much attention at the upcoming Paris Salon. He wrote to a friend: “I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty.” When the painting first appeared at the 1884 Paris Salon under the title Portrait de Mme *** people were shocked and scandalized. The original version showed the right shoulder strap down (Sargent later raised it). He also changed the title to the more mysterious Madame X. The poor public and critical reception was a disappointment to both artist and model. Gautreau was humiliated and Sargent left Paris for London. Seven years later Gustave Courtois painted Madame Gautreau. This time however the portrait was well received by the public. In 1897 Gautreau posed yet again, for what would be her favorite, by Antonio de la Gandara. [w]