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John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Joshua Montgomery Sears (Sarah Choate Sears), 1899, oil on canvas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of George R. Brown in honor of his wife, Alice Pratt Brown.

Artful Thursday “Sargent’s Eye for Fashion”

Thursday, May 15, 2014
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Law Building, Lower Level
1001 Bissonnet Map & Directions


Presented by Chiara Colombi, PhD, researcher in fashion design at Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

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—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. As Mark Twain observed, “Clothes make the man.” 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 sociocultural 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.

Reserve your free ticket in advance! Use the "Get Tickets" button above and print at home; call 713.639.7771; or visit any MFAH admissions desk.

Promotional support generously provided by Houston Public Radio - KUHF 88.7 FM & Classical 91.7 FM.

Special thanks to Adept Word Management for transcription services.

All education programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment income from funds provided by Caroline Wiess Law; The National Endowment for the Humanities; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; the Favrot Fund; and Gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.