The show is essentially a love story, arranged both chronologically and thematically, and unfolds almost like a serial novel. A precursor to Proust, say, in paint.
GREENWICH, Conn. — Everything was illuminated at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, from 5,000 electric lamps igniting the Eiffel Tower to the Grand Waterfall, a cascading fountain animated by colored lights.
Compared to other portraits of 19th century ladies, Édouard Manet’s painting of poet Nina de Callias was scandalously exotic, with her golden bangles, bolero jacket, Algerian shirt, and flourish of a feather in her curled hair, not to mention her open, sensual pose. A little scruffy dog rests its head on her flurry of skirts from which emerges an exposed ankle, and a tumult of colorful fans decorate the wall behind her. While the shock has totally subsided for contemporary audiences, the portrait drove her estranged husband to demand Manet not show it anywhere. Fashion and the identities it offered or constrained in the mid-1860s to mid-1880s (centering on Paris) is an undercurrent in the works by the top Impressionists, along with examples of period clothing caged in glass display boxes, in Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, opening February 26 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.