Two fascinating turn-of-the-century items from the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery are becoming a huge hit with audiences in America.
A beautiful court dress made by the noted Parisian couture House of Worth (c. 1903) for Lady Mary Curzon, and the oil painting ‘Watersplash’ by Henry Herbert La Thangue (c. 1899), are highlighting the Bath-based collections whilst on loan to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.
The dress, sparkling with heavy metal thread embroidery and diamante, plays a key role in the Yale Center’s exhibition ‘Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the 20th Century’. The gown belonged to Mary Curzon, Vicereine of India at the turn of the century. An American by birth, she married Lord Curzon and as Vicereine of India was the second most important woman, after Queen Victoria, in the whole of the British Empire.
Rosemary Harden, Manager of the Fashion Museum, said: “The display of this dress at Yale is a great coup for the Fashion Museum. The dress is the star of the show, the centre piece of this marvellous exhibition which for the first time in a generation re-evaluates British Art in the Edwardian period.
“It’s particularly exciting for us in the 50th anniversary year of the Fashion Museum to ensure that pieces from our wonderful collection take their rightful place alongside other splendid objects in one of the most important exhibitions to be held anywhere in the world this year. It enables objects from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s collection to be interpreted in a new context, and to showcase our treasures to new audiences.”
‘Watersplash’ by Henry Herbert La Thangue (1859-1929) – which was voted the most popular painting in the Victoria Art Gallery’s collection – depicts a scene of traditional English rural life as a flock of geese are driven through a shallow stream by a boy with a stick.
Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: “‘Watersplash’ transports us so successfully to a place of sunny, rural tranquillity that it is hard to believe what a radical painting it was in its time.
“Victorian taste dictated that artists should use fine brushes to give a porcelain-like finish to their pictures. In contrast, La Thangue used square hog’s hair brushes to create a richly textured surface – focusing on movement and light rather than detail to paint everyday subjects as spontaneously and naturally as possible.”
Angus Trumble, Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture, at the Yale Center for British Art, said: “The gown and the painting are making a huge splash here – giving the show a special and deeply satisfying buzz around it. We are so grateful to everyone involved at the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.”
The Lady Curzon court dress and ‘Watersplash’ are on loan to the Yale Center for British Art until 2 June 2013. They will then be returned to the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery for visitors in Bath to continue to enjoy.