Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity to Open at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents a revealing look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries.  Some 80 major figure paintings, seen in concert with period costumes, accessories, fashion plates, photographs, and popular prints, highlight the vital relationship between fashion and art during the pivotal years, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1880s, when Paris emerged as the style capital of the world.  With the rise of the department store, the advent of ready-made wear, and the proliferation of fashion magazines, those at the forefront of the avant-garde—from Manet, Monet, and Renoir to Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Zola—turned a fresh eye to contemporary dress, embracing la mode as the harbinger of la modernité.  The novelty, vibrancy, and fleeting allure of the latest trends in fashion proved seductive for a generation of artists and writers who sought to give expression to the pulse of modern life in alturkishjournal_met_february_19th_13l its nuanced richness. Without rivaling the meticulous detail of society portraitists such  as James Tissot or Alfred Stevens or the graphic flair of fashion plates, the Impressionists nonetheless engaged similar strategies in the making (and in the marketing) of their pictures of stylish men and women that sought to  reflect the spirit of their age.

The exhibition is made possible in part by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Janice H. Levin Fund, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Renée Belfer.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

This stunning survey, anchored by many of the most celebrated works of the Impressionist era, illustrates the extent to which artists responded to the dictates of fashion between the 1860s, when admiring critics dubbed Monet’s portrait of his future wife “The Green Dress,” and the mid-1880s, when Degas capped off his famous series of milliners and Seurat pinpointed the vogue for the emphatic bustle.

Highlights of the exhibition include Monet’s Luncheon on the Grass (1865-66) and Women in the Garden (1866), Bazille’s Family Reunion (1867), Bartholomé’s In the Conservatory (Madame Bartholomé) (ca. 1881, paired with the sitter’s dress), and 16 other key loans from the Musée d’Orsay;  Monet’s Camille (1866) from the Kunsthalle Bremen, Renoir’s Lise (Woman with Umbrella) (1867) from the Museum Folkwang, Essen, and Manet’s The Parisienne (ca. 1875) from the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, which have never before traveled to the U.S.; Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877) and Degas’s The Millinery Shop (ca. 1882-86) from the Art Institute of Chicago; Renoir’s The Loge (1874) from The Courtauld Gallery, London; and Cassatt’s In the Loge (1878) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Representing loans from 40 international lenders and seven of the Museum’s curatorial departments, the Metropolitan’s presentation affords a keen sense of the parallel dictates of style as they evolved in art and fashion over a 20-year period. The fashion component of the exhibition, featuring 16 period costumes and an array of accessories, from hats to shoes and dainty parasols to silver-tipped walking sticks, complements the paintings on view and extends from crinoline dresses and frock coats of the 1860s to the prominent bustle skirts of the mid-1880s. This selection, which showcases the resources of the Museum’s Costume Institute, is supplemented by key loans from European and American collections and is displayed along with a full complement of photographs, fashion illustrations, and journals from the period. This ancillary material of 100 items, largely drawn from the Metropolitan’s encyclopedic holdings, is richly evocative of the late 19th-century Parisian milieu that inspired, provoked, and nurtured the talents—and often, the ambitions—of the painters of modern life.

Fully one-third of the loans will make their debut in New York, and more than three-dozen works of art, costumes, and accessories are shown uniquely at this venue.

For more information about the exhibition you should visit the museum web site at

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