Sargent and Fashion

In 2021-22, the MFA will present Sargent and Fashion, an exhibition exploring the role of dress in the painter’s work. We will bring together Sargent’s finest portraits with representative clothes of the period, including several of the actual garments he depicted in portraits. Our 2019 “Exhibition Lab” will go behind the scenes, inviting visitors into the decision-making process and asking questions relevant to both content and display. Who decided what Sargent’s sitters wore, and what do those clothes reveal about nationality, power dynamics, and taste? What choices did Sargent and his patrons make? How much do today’s viewers understand about the dress of Sargent’s time and how should these garments be displayed?

These selections include artwork currently on display in the Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion, as well as additional works by Sargent from the collection featuring dress and costume.