If you’re a fan of watching the red carpet portion of award shows, you’ll frequently hear the question “Who are you wearing?” Which is the exact question that art historians are still trying to answer for this 1866 painting by Claude Monet. How did the artist access these super fashionable—and quite expensive—garments?
Here’s what we do know. . . Women in the Garden was painted en plein air at a house Monet rented in Ville d’Avray, southwest of Paris. His mistress Camille posed consecutively for each of the figures, but Monet varied both her posture and her outward appearance (note the red hair on the figure to the right) according to the composition.
The dresses pictured are also at the height of fashion. These summery, bright gowns are characterized by tight-fitting, high-waisted bodices and half length paletots (fitted outer jackets). Stylish ladies like the ones depicted would have valued white dresses both because they were thought to have an advantageous effect on the complexion and they signified a life of leisure. The striped dress to the left and the dotted ensemble to the right also feature the triangular silhouette, which would have been au courant in 1866 fashion magazines.
But where did Monet get these dresses? It’s unlikely that he owned or borrowed them because his own financial situation at this point in time was quite precarious. One hypothesis is that they may have belonged to Camille herself. She was quite fashionable and grew up in well-established bourgeois circumstances, but was essentially cut off from her family when she took up with Monet in 1865. However, the fact that at least one of the dresses (the dotted garment) appears in Monet’s earlier Luncheon on the Grass bolsters this idea. Also, at the time, dresses were preserved as long as possible and even updated by adding or subtracting trims and accessories, so she and Monet may have reimagined some of her older dresses.
If only Ryan Seacrest lived in the 1860s. . . then we would have all the answers.
Image Credit: Claude Monet. Women in the Garden, 1866. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 2773.
1 day 19 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago "Be a good craftsman; it won't stop you being a genius.”
Advice from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, on his birthday.
See 13 paintings by the great French Impressionist—now on view: http://bit.ly/2lj3AVq
2 days 13 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Go
Speed is both a product of modern life and an agent of it. At the turn of the 20th century, new technologies of mobility and transmission—trains, cars, airplanes, radio, film, television, to name only a few—increased the pace of life, collapsing distances between people and places and assaulting the senses.
Go, the second exhibition in the Art Institute’s Modern Series, explores how artists responded to different ways of experiencing and seeing the world in the accelerated modern age—through paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, designed objects, textiles, books, and films.
2 days 17 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Happy birthday to Winslow Homer. In 1883 the artist moved to a small coastal village in Maine, where he created a series of paintings of the sea unparalleled in American art. The paintings he created after 1882 focused almost exclusively on humankind’s age-old contest with nature.
In The Herring Net, Homer depicted the heroic efforts of fishermen at their daily work. While one fisherman hauls in the netted and glistening herring, the other unloads the catch. Utilizing the teamwork so necessary for survival, both strive to steady the precarious boat as it rides the incoming swells. Homer’s isolation of these two figures underscores the monumentality of their task: the elemental struggle against a sea that both nurtures and deprives.
See five paintings by Winslow Homer in Gallery 171 of American Art—http://bit.ly/2l89rfx