Loans for “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity”

Last month, the exhibition “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show includes two pieces on loan from the Kent State University Museum. In the spirit of this blog which covers “behind the scenes,” I will give you a little bit of a peak into what goes into putting a loan together from the perspective of the lenders. This post is intended as the first in a series about this process.

We were first contacted by the staff of the Costume Institute back in September 2010. They sent us images of the paintings that would be included in the exhibition. Excited by the prospect of a loan to the Met and the Art Institute of Chicago, the Collections Manager, Joanne Fenn, and I searched through the collection for suitable pieces. I am attaching the original photos that we sent back in October.

Of the list of items the curators were looking for, we had strong contenders for 3 categories. In fact, we have a number of blue walking dresses from the 1870s. The two items we sent photos of were remarkably similar to Renoir’s painting La Parisienne. We also have a beautiful man’s suit from 1876. This suit is similar to any number of impressionist paintings of men; the Degas painting At the Stock Exchange (1878-79) was one of the images they sent for comparison. The final item that we offered as a counterpoint to Tissot’s Portrait of Mademoiselle L. L. was a bolero from the 1860s.

Ultimately, the curators chose the second of the blue taffeta walking dresses (KSUM 1983.1.126 ab) and the man’s suit (KSUM 1986.41.2 ab). While they original requested the bolero, in the end this pieces was not included among the loans.

Sara Hume, Curator


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