09 Mar A homage to the woman of the Belle Époque
A homage to the woman of the Belle Époque: elegance on the printed page.
Fashion, style and frivolity in the magazines of the Belle Époque.
The legend of the Belle Époque, still remembered as a memorable time of incredible euphoria, reflects a Europe-wide vision and a hunger for innovation that were to bring about major changes in society, tastes, lifestyles and communications.
This buoyant climate, still attractive to the public today, is brought back to life at MAGI’900 in a section of the museum’s permanent collection exhibiting a great variety of images celebrating the figure of woman, a favourite subject of turn-of-the-century visual arts.
Beautiful, intriguing, an object of desire but already fighting to achieve emancipation, woman appears in the art, decoration, publications, fashions and advertising of the day in many different guises, and her features, suspended between reality and imagination, are still recognisable as unmatched icons of style.
The exhibition includes a vast selection of sculptures, paintings, graphics and publications offering an international overview centring around a number of well-known masterpieces, such as the painting Il Cappellino Azzurro (The Blue Cap) by Ferrara painter Giovanni Boldini and the lithographs by his French friend Paul Cèsar Helleu, as well as practically unknown works such as the tempera paintings by Cento artist Aroldo Bonzagni and Lutz Ehrenberger, an Austrian artist who continued to interpret the spirit of the Belle Époque in the decades that followed.
The availability of a vast quantity of extraordinary illustrated magazines allows the museum to renew the exhibition periodically to focus on particular themes. At the moment, to mark the occasion of the great exhibition on Boldini and Fashion at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, the selected theme is elegance, as it appears not only in fashion magazines, but in satirical and lifestyle publications, interpreted and publicised in a new way.
The muse of books and magazines, and wink at us from glossy magazine covers.um’s walls offer a true spectacle of lace, booties, corsets, eccentric hats and fantastic outfits, a “fashion show of paper models with ivory complexions” immortalised by artists and illustrators of great class, who interpret the fleeting, incessantly changing tastes of the day. Elegant, pretty, bold enough to put on the first pantaloons, malicious in immaculate lingerie, voluptuous in their crinolines, proud under their big feathered hats: the beautiful, ageless ladies of the Belle Époque step right out of the posters, come to life on the pages
The many artists whose work appear in the exhibition include Toulouse -Lautrec, Řezníček and Cappiello, while the publications featured include Le Sourire, Gil Blass, Le Frou Frou, La Vie Parisienne, Fantasio, L’Assiette au Beurre, Le Rire, Jugend, Moderne Kunst, Lustige Blätter and Italian magazines Margherita, Cordelia, La Domenica del Corriere, L’illustrazione and La scena illustrata.
Also not to be missed are the fantastic costumes designed for masked balls by Giuseppe Palanti, true flights of fantasy that still invite us to enjoy all the fun of dressing up, and the iconoclastic satirical cartoons unveiling the virtues and vices of fashionable ladies, such as those to come out of the merciless pen of Aldolphe-Léon Willett