Clothes might make the (wo)man, but they were also of great importance in the work of John Singer Sargent. The Museum of Fine Arts invites visitors to explore the fashion in the American artist’s work—and the importance and meaning behind each piece—in Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion, from November to June.
The exhibit, designed to provide thought provoking insight on the importance of fashion in art, is also an open invitation by the MFA to voice your opinions ahead of a seminal exhibition on Sargent and fashion to be held in 2021-22 in partnership with Tate Britain. The future major exhibition will see Sargent’s iconic paintings shown alongside clothing from the time—and even from the artwork itself.
Sargent’s subjects were often the wealthiest and most fashionable people of their day, from Boston to New York and in Europe, and they took risks with what they wore from the bold polka dots worn in Mrs. Edward Darley Boit (1887) to the Turkish attire modeled by Sargent’s niece, Rose-Marie Ormond, in a photograph from the MFA’s archives.
How does what they choose to wear in a singular painting leave a lasting impression of them and the time they lived in? The current exhibit is a chance to see some of Sargent’s most vivid pieces like Mrs. Charles E. Inches (1887), which will be displayed for the first time with the red velvet evening gown with deep neckline that she wore in the portrait. The museum is encouraging visitors to voice their opinions on the exhibit and the forthcoming one by answering questions and participating in pop-up focus groups.
Want to check it out? The MFA’s Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion is on view from November 10 through June 23.