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Edgar Degas Exhibit at the Legion of Honor

Discover well-accessorized Parisians through an Impressionist lens at the Legion of Honor.


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Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Hats are to Edgar Degas as water lilies are to Claude Monet. Well-known for his paintings of ballet dancers, Degas also created a repertoire of work featuring Parisian women in high-fashion hats—much of which hasn’t been seen collectively in the United States.

The latest exhibition at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade, explores how artists depicted milliners, or hat-makers, during the height of hat fashion, and showcases works that highlight urban life in Paris from 1875 to 1914. (The millinery trade flourished during this time, and by 1900, there were more than 1,000 milliners in the fashion capital of the world—the best of whom were Caroline Reboux, Jeanne Lanvin, and Coco Chanel.)

In the exhibit, the artworks are juxtaposed with a range of fashionable hats created by famous Parisian milliners around the turn of the century, offering a unique glimpse into the complex process of hat making, as well as the artistry of creating a beautiful and statement-making accessory. While this first-of-its-kind showcase focuses primarily on works by Degas, it also features other Impressionists, including Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Maison Virot, Woman’s hat, ca. 1890. // Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Given the combination of fantastic work and impressive millinery, it’s no wonder this period in Western history was referred to as “la Belle Époque,” the beautiful era.

June 24–September 24, legionofhonor.famsf.org.  

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