October 8, 2023–January 15, 2024

Fashioned by Sargent

Who creates your image?

In portraits by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), sitters assume elegant stances, the fabric of their dress richly depicted in broad, sensuous strokes of paint. Sargent brought his subjects to life, but he did much more than simply record what appeared before him. He often chose what his sitters wore and, even if they arrived in his studio dressed in the latest fashions, he frequently simplified and altered the details. Exploiting dress was an integral part of his artistry.

Organized with Tate Britain, “Fashioned by Sargent” explores the artist’s complex relationship with his often-affluent clients and their clothes. The exhibition reveals Sargent’s power over his sitters’ images by considering the liberties he took with sartorial choices to express distinctive personalities, social positions, professions, gender identities, and nationalities. Alongside about 50 paintings by Sargent, over a dozen period garments and accessories shed new light on the relationship between fashion and this beloved artist’s creative practice.

“The coat is the picture,” Sargent once told Graham Robertson, clearly articulating the role dress played in his work. The exhibition features Robertson’s portrait as well as style icons like Madame X, Lady Agnew, and Dr. Pozzi at Home. Visitors can also see several paintings together with the garments worn by the sitters, among them Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth with her beetle-wing-encrusted costume, and Mrs. Charles Inches (Louise Pomeroy) with her red velvet evening gown. Step into the making of a Sargent portrait and consider ideas of curating—and controlling—one’s image.

“Unapologetically gorgeous”
Boston Globe

“You can take Sargent out of fashion, but you cannot take the fashion out of Sargent.”

See It with a Ticket

Everyone needs a timed-entry ticket to see the exhibition, including members—reserve yours to guarantee entry. Weekends are popular, so join us on Thursdays or Fridays, when we’re open until 10 pm, or Mondays and Wednesdays, when we’re open until 5 pm. And don’t forget, exhibition tickets include general admission to the Museum!

Looking for More Sargent in Boston?

Through January 14, “Fashioned by Sargent” ticket holders who reserve tickets online can redeem $2 off admission to the nearby Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is hosting the companion exhibition “Inventing Isabella.” This offer is available online only and can be redeemed for up to four tickets through a promo code received in your “Fashioned by Sargent” order confirmation e-mail.

  • Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)

Related Events

Related Publications


Bank of America


Terra Foundation for American Art

Generous Supporter

Additional generous support from Tom and Bonnie Rosse. Supported by Lynn Dale and Frank Wisneski, the Barbara M. Eagle Exhibition Fund, the MFA Associates / MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Fund for Exhibitions, and the Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine Exhibition Fund.

This exhibition is co-organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tate Britain.