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REVIEW: Sargent and Fashion

Flouncing frocks galore await you at this jewel of a show at the Tate Britain.

A collaboration between the Tate and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston this show is a total triumph ! Honouring the immense talents of portrait painter John Singer Sargent the swathes of flowing organza, taffeta and velvet look so sumptuous you have to stop yourself reaching out to touch them...

With over 60 magnificent works, some reunited with the original period gowns and accessories worn by the sitters for the very first time, you will need at least an hour at the gallery to absorb all the beauty around you.

Who knew that Sargent was quite the fashion stylist at heart. Like Sorella, Sargent is hugely renowned for his inherant ability to bring his paintings to life. Sargent regularly chose the outfits worn by his sitters or tweaked what they were wearing on canvas to achieve the look he desired not always reflecting the sitters choice of outfit. We loved learning that he often played the piano to his sitters to keep the atmosphere jolly.

A dashing Dr Pozzi

The show is full to the brim of fashionable high society aristo's as well as dancers, actors and singers of this era. From the Duchess of Portland in an exquisite ivory gown complete with red satin cloak to a hugely dapper Dr Pozzi at home adorned in his crimson dressing gown and Turkish slippers - there is wall to wall glamour at every turn.

Madame X

His famous painting of Madame X (above) with her very risky jewelled strap slipping off her shoulder caused quite a stir in 1884. Due to total outrage poor Sargent had to repaint the strap to save irreparable damage to his and Miss Gautreau's reputation.

The opulence of all the sumptuous gowns will stay with you long after you have left. Oh to have been his neighbour in Tite Street alongside Oscar Wilde in 1886.

We adored it. GO!


By Julia Colls 20 Feb

Tate Britain

£22 adults, U12s free


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