Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion

November 10, 2018–June 23, 2019

Join us in planning a landmark exhibition on Sargent and the fashion of his time

As the MFA prepares to mount a major exhibition dedicated to John Singer Sargent and fashion in 2021–22, you are invited to provide your opinions as the curators formulate a conceptual blueprint for the project. “Exhibition Lab: Sargent and Fashion” takes you behind the scenes as the curators consider questions related to the role of dress in Sargent’s work, from the brazen polka dots of Mrs. Edward Darley Boit (Mary Louisa Cushing) (1887) to the Turkish attire worn by Sargent’s niece, Rose-Marie Ormond, in a photograph from the MFA’s Sargent Archive (and also used by Sargent in later portraits). Who decided what sitters wore? What do these clothes reveal about nationality, power dynamics, and taste?

The 2021–22 exhibition, co-organized with Tate Britain, will unite the finest portraits by Sargent with representative clothes of the period, including several of the actual garments depicted in portraits. This fall’s “Exhibition Lab” allows MFA curators to test innovative strategies for mounting an exhibition of this scale and ambition, while seeking opinions from visitors on content, design, and interpretation by inviting them to respond to questions and participate in pop-up focus groups. Among the notable objects on view is Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy) (1887), displayed for the first time with the red velvet evening gown with daring décolletage, later much altered, that the sitter wore for the portrait.

  • Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery (Gallery LG26)


Supported by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund.