La Parisienne/La Washingtonienne

5 Pierre-Auguste Renoir - La Parisienne, 1874_PR

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La Parisienne, 1874. Oil on canvas. National Museum of Wales;Miss Gwendoline E. Davies Bequest, 1951 (nmwa 2495). Courtesy American Federation of Arts.


In living color in Director Paul Greenhalgh’s office.

This week has been busy and semi sleepless but so, so inspiring. Though I work every day at an art gallery, I spend most of my time at my computer. I’ve been writing about/thinking about this show for months, but seeing the work and walking through the exhibition with the curator this week, I am just so re-energized and re-inspired. On Saturday Turner to Cezanne opens, and will be on view through April 25.

A central works in the show is Renoir’s commanding portrait, La Parisienne. Renoir painted her at a time when Europe was changing rapidly due to industrialization, and with it a new, undefined, increasingly modern world. The title itself is of note, because while he was painting a portrait of an actual person – she was a very young, relatively unknown actress – he was painting her as a representation of the modern urban woman. She’s at the height of fashion in her blue dress, the dye having become more available due to innovation, and she’s both shy and bold at the same time. I’m thrilled that she’s here in Washington, at a time when the city feels so alive with change and cultural, creative energy.

She’s hung slightly low in gallery on purpose, so that you can look right at her as she meets your gaze. I adore her so much that she inspired my outfit yesterday – a silk taffeta dress with a built-in crinoline that I wore with some vintage underthings, including hold-up stockings. Which are seriously fun to wear (more on that later). So yes, another reason I love my job: I can wear a party dress to work if I feel like it!

UPDATE: Check out an awesome front-page Style review of the show in Saturday’s Post….shameless plugs going on here, sorry!


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