John Singer Sargent, an acclaimed portraitist of the Belle Epoque and the Gilded Age, depicted the trendsetting upper and middle class of Europe and America â€” especially expatriate Americans who settled in Paris after the Civil War. He also traveled the European continent and America extensively, capturing the landscapes. Regardless of the subject, Sargent always kept his eye on fashions of the day, making him a prime witness of the modern "Fashion System."
The rise of an international middle class in the second half of the 19th century enabled fashion to establish its identity-making power and social meaning. On one hand, apparel communicates a social status and a role; on the other, it defines etiquette depending upon when, where and how it is worn. During this period, fashion developed its own peculiar language, began to change constantly, and was both influenced and influenced by socio-cultural tendencies.
In this lecture, Chiara Colombi engages the audience in a multi-disciplinary reading of modern fashion through Sargent's oil paintings. This Artful Thursday complements the exhibition John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors.