This week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City launched Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, another fabulous installation that is a growing trend among museums around the world—the marriage of fashion and art. In the past two years we’ve been  gifted with Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the Met; Diana Vreeland. After Diana Vreeland at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice; HATS—An Anthology by Stephen Jones at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; and Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity looks at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries, highlighting “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.” Featuring 80 Impressionist-era figure paintings, period costumes, accessories, photographs, popular prints, and fashion plates, the show is a cross-national composition curated by the Paris Musée d’Orsay, the Met, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

And what a brilliant composition it is. Fashion in the Impressionist era shunned the old adage that less is more. Instead, it was a period of exaggerated silhouettes, volume, exuberance, vibrancy, and, yes, lots of  excess. For those of you who relish a 19th-century French feast full of pleats, petticoats, corsets, muslins, gloves, laces, ruches, ball gowns, and oh yes, parasols, we’ve selected three of our favorites to tantalize you. They will pique not only your  interest in fashion but in art history as well.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 27, 2013; it moves to the Art Institute of Chicago in June.

Images via WikiPaintings



QE Paris Street, Rainy DayGustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877

Paris Street; Rainy Day depicts a fashionably dressed Parisian couple in the foreground as they stroll down a street near the Saint-Lazare train station in the Place de Dublin. Populated with sharply outfitted women and men, as well as with workers of various sorts, the canvas is an impressive rendition of the new urban environment that the artist, Gustave Caillebotte, both observed and inhabited. That urban environment honored the color black as it evolved, for both men and women, from darkness to a symbol of sophistication.

The Millinery ShopEdgar Degas, The Millinery Shop, 1879/86

This canvas is Edgar Degas’s most ambitious statement on the theme of the millinery shop. Although the young woman is presumably a hatmaker examining her handiwork—with her lips pursed, perhaps around a pin—it has also been suggested that she could be a client about to try on a hat, since she wears an expensive fur-trimmed dress and kid gloves. (Excerpted from the permanent collection label, The Art Institute of Chicago)

Family-Reunion-BazilleFrédéric Bazille, Family Reunion, also called Family Portraits, 1867

During a summer holiday in his family home near Montpellier, France, Frédéric Bazille worked on this, a fairly large painting showing ten of his close family members gathered on the terrace, and adding himself at the far left of the painting. The shade of the large tree accentuates the bright colors of the landscape and the sky. The light filtered by the foliage enhances the pale clothes, contrasting with the dark note of jacket, shawl, or apron.

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