Meadows Museum’s newest exhibition offers a glimpse into historical fashions through the lens of Spanish art.
Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, “Beach at Portici, 1874” (Spanish, 1838-1874, oil on canvas) is paired with the ensemble.
For the first time, works from the collection at Meadows Museum, SMU, are being paired with historic dress and accessories in Canvas & Silk: Historic Fashion From Madrid’s Museo del Traje. Marking the first major collaboration between this important Spanish institution and an American museum, viewers of the exhibit can explore, in a new light, the relationship between representation and reality. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to gain further insight into the Meadows’ collection of Spanish art through its exhibition with loans from Spain’s premier collection of historic dress,” says Amanda W. Dotseth, curator at the Meadows Museum and co-curator of the exhibition in collaboration with Elvira González of the Museo del Traje. “This exhibition makes it possible to tell a more nuanced story about Spanish society through the presentation of historic paintings with contemporaneous examples of the garments depicted therein.”
Bodice, skirt and overskirt detail (1875-1880, silk, linen, cotton, metal and bone). BODICE, SKIRT AND OVERSKIRT (DETAIL) AND TRAJE A “LA FRANCESA” DETAIL, MUSEO DEL TRAJE, MADRID, PHOTO BY JESÚS MADRIÑÁN\
Canvas & Silk is divided into themes that elucidate various trends in the history of European fashion in general and Spanish dress in particular. The showstopper is Ignacio Zuloaga’s “The Bullfighter” (“El Segovianito”) (1912) accompanied by a traje de luces (the suit worn by bullfighters) of the same color. Another icon of Spanish fashion can be seen with Zuloaga’s “Portrait of the Duchess of Arión, Marchioness of Bay” (1918) displayed alongside a mantón de Manila (embroidered silk shawl) similar to the one the duchess is holding. However, the garment that surprised Dotseth the most is the 18th century male ensemble paired with “Favorites of the Court” by Casanova. “It’s an imaginary scene of colorfully clad bullfighters being presented at the royal court where everyone is elegantly dressed in the latest French fashions,” she says. “The loan from the Museo del Traje is of brown silk with elaborate embroidery in pale ivory and pink that really highlights the excellent craftsmanship available to elite wearers some 300 years ago.” With some 40 works on display, viewers are sure to be surprised by a number of fine findings. Sept. 19-Jan. 9, 2022, meadowsmuseumdallas.org