About This Artwork
In 1988, Sherman was invited by Artes Magnus, producer of artist-designed tableware, to develop a special-edition dinnerware and tea set with the French porcelain house Limoges. The original molds for the eighteenth-century porcelain designs of Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV, are held by Limoges. For her sets, Sherman modeled herself as the infamous mistress, and went on to create a series of photographs that she presented in Paris to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution. Untitled #193 is the first in this series. Sherman describes the subject as “an older Madame de Pompadour.” Her pearls are tucked slightly under her fake breastplate, and in the bottom right of the photograph a humorously large foot pokes out from under her dress. The work is often read as a parody of the portrait painter and his model—both enacted by Sherman. Its glaring artifice serves as a reminder of the constructed and often male-dominated production of culture. Stemming from the artist’s collaboration with Limoges, which has ties to the French court, the series both invokes old master oil paintings and suggests a larger art historical discourse related to class, taste, and gender.