Sinéad Furlong-Clancy is an art and fashion historian specialising in nineteenth-century Paris. She is on the Visual and Historical Art panel of Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and is a specialist lecturer for the National Gallery of Ireland Outreach programme. She read English and French at Trinity College Dublin for her BA Hons and was awarded a Double First, with a dissertation in French Impressionist painting supervised by David Scott. She spent an undergraduate year off books studying art history at the Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, where she specialised in nineteenth-century painting, and following her undergraduate studies, was pensionnaire étranger at the École Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm, following art history programmes there and at the Sorbonne, with Nadège Dagen and Éric Darragon. She was awarded the TCD Ussher Doctoral Fellowship for her PhD, ‘Women in the Parks of Paris: Painting and Writing the Female Body, 1848-1900,’ also supervised by David Scott. She subsequently followed the museology programme at the École du Louvre, and interned in the Impressionist and Modern Art Department of Sotheby’s Paris. She was the recipient of a French Government medal, a Government of Ireland postdoctoral fellowship, and a Fulbright award (regretfully declined due to a conflict with her primary postdoctoral award). She has lectured at Trinity College Dublin, the Sorbonne, the National College of Art and Design, the National Gallery of Ireland and Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, and has contributed to several acclaimed arts feature shows on RTÉ Radio 1. Her first book, developed from her PhD, The Depiction and Description of the Female Body in Nineteenth-Century French Art, Literature, and Society: Women in the Parks of Paris, 1848-1900, has recently been published by the Mellen Press, New York (2014).
FASHION AND THE PAINTING OF PARISIAN MODERNITY: NEW ACADEMIC AND CURATORIAL PERSPECTIVES BY SINÉAD FURLONG-CLANCY
This paper examines academic approaches to and constructions of nineteenth-century French art history – the painting of modernity – and the context of fashion history as an academic discipline, starting with the career of (and initial resistance encountered by) leading fashion historian Valerie Steele, now Director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. The paper examines two major 2012/13 French Impressionist exhibitions, ‘Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity’ (titled ‘L’Impressionnisme et La Mode’ in Paris), which exhibited paintings alongside garments and accessories with equal emphasis on both art and fashion (at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012-2013), and ‘Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting’ at the Frick Collection, New York (2012).
In the Frick exhibition, the central role of fashion in a new art-historical understanding emerged from extensive research into and the conservation of an iconic painting belonging to the Frick Collection. The exhibition employed detailed fashion analysis to challenge the accepted title of a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La Promenade, Mother and Children (1875-1876), now known as La Promenade. I had highlighted the earlier title as problematic (for the same reasons, relating to fashion) in my doctoral thesis supervised by David Scott, Women in the Parks of Paris: Painting and Writing the Female Body, 1848-1900 (TCD, 2001), recently extended and published as a book (2014), and in a special-edition essay published in 2003. In the present paper, I discuss my primary research of nineteenth-century Parisian fashion journals and my art-historical practice in the context of a noticeable recent shift in curatorial and academic perspectives. This is a promising turn of events for art and fashion history, and locates fashion within a more prominent academic and curatorial paradigm, which both enriches and makes more precise our understanding of the painting of Parisian modernity.