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VeriArtem.comNewsTate Britain presents “Sargent and Fashion”

Tate Britain presents “Sargent and Fashion”

From February 22 to July 7, 2024, Tate Britain presents the exhibition “Sargent and Fashion”, featuring some 60 works by the acclaimed American painter.

Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Tate Britain · Image: John Singer Sargent “Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon” (detail), 1904. Birmingham Museum of Art

Sargent was renowned for the ability to bring his subjects to life. Rather than being driven purely by the sensibilities of his wealthy clientele, he used dress and fashion as a powerful tool to establish their individuality while proclaiming his own aesthetic agenda. He worked collaboratively with his sitters, but also took creative liberties, changing and omitting details as he saw fit. He regularly chose their outfits or manipulated their clothing, as in Lady Sassoon 1907, which will be displayed at the start of the exhibition alongside the original black taffeta opera cloak worn in the image, revealing how he pulled, wrapped, and pinned the fabric to add drama to his portrait. In this respect, Sargent was working in a similar way to how an art director at a fashion shoot would today.

The exhibition will tell the stories behind the artist’s key patrons, including nobility and influential members of the community. Collectively, Sargent’s portraits of the elite offer a compelling representation of fashionable high society at the turn of the century. Highlights will include Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’ Abernon 1904 and Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy) 1887, which will be juxtaposed with the red velvet evening dress illustrated. The regalia worn by Charles Stewart, sixth Marquess of Londonderry at the Coronation of Edward VII 1904 will be reunited with the painting to show how the artist conveyed both rank and personality through clothing. Sargent was able to take even more creative freedoms with non-commissioned portraits, such as his iconic painting of socialite Virginie Amélie Gautreau, Madame X 1883-4, which caused a stir at the Salon by salaciously showing Mme Gautreau with one diamond strap falling from her shoulder. The exhibition will present both Tate and The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s versions of this infamous work. Sargent’s artistic process and relationships will be further explored using photographs, drawings, garments, and accounts written by his sitters. Key works such as Mrs Montgomery Sears 1899 will be shown alongside Mrs Sears’ own dresses and her photographs of Sargent at work, while Mrs Fiske Warren and her Daughter Rachel 1903 will be displayed with photographs documenting the portrait sittings in process.

The exhibition arrives in London after its debut at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where it was on view from October 8, 2023 to January 15, 2024. “The MFA and Tate Britain both began supporting John Singer Sargent during his lifetime, and we’re proud to partner on this major exhibition that offers new perspectives on this beloved painter,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director from the MFA Boston. “Sargent’s world, much like our own, was aware of the power of an image to mask reality and invent new narratives and identities. ‘Fashioned by Sargent’ encourages us to think deeply about the creation of a portrait— how it affects both how we see others and how the world sees us.”

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