Rena Tobey on James Abbott McNeill Whistler & John Singer Sargent

James Abbott McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent may have never met, but their art careers took similar trajectories. Both left the U.S. to make their work overseas, and both shocked their contemporary art worlds with their paintings and oversized personalities. But how exactly did the beauty of their works break through traditional conventions to invent the modern art language? This is the story of two visionary artists who put American art on the international map and helped invent art of the 20th century.

Our artistic deep dive will include:
• A look at the lives and career choices of two iconic American artists
• Tales of scandal involving both artists, from the infamous Whistler libel case to the
searing story of the Peacock Room to the jolt of Madame X
• Dissecting Whistler and Sargent images to understand what made their works so
modern
• An understanding of how these in-demand artists were pivotal to the development of
celebrity culture

In the series:
Apr. 9: Whistler – with Rena Tobey
Apr. 16: Sargent – with Rena Tobey
May 6: Sargent & Fashion – with Lydia Bauman

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Audrey Hepburn – Added lecture!

Hepburn’s style, subject to prominence after her rise to fame in the 1950s, was associated with timelessness and tailoring. Hepburn had a confident sense in her own manner of dressing, and sought simple, refined pieces to emphasize her silhouette and profile. She believed that women should find their own complementary “look”, rather than rely on trends, and accessorize it seasonally. Hepburn invested in quality pieces, and put intentional thought into her ensembles by occasion. She admired simple lines and elegant looks, designed to complement her, rather than stand out.

In the series:

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 – Empress Eugénie
Mar. 23 – Marlene Dietrich
Mar. 30 – Jackie Kennedy
Apr. 13 – Princess Diana
Apr. 20 – Audrey Hepburn *Added lecture*

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Princess Diana

From the moment she got engaged to Prince Charles, Diana captured our hearts. The somewhat dowdy young aristocrat quickly learned how to create her own style and, more importantly, use fashion as an extension of her warm and charismatic personality. As a member of the royal family, she was not afraid to bring a touch of originality to her outfits, while displaying a perfect sense of style and taste. Following her divorce, she, more than ever, used fashion to make statements and to show the world she was free to pursue her own dreams. Who can forget her famous “revenge dress”, the black plunging Christina Stambolian dress, which remains her most iconic look?

In the series:

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 – Empress Eugénie
Mar. 23 – Marlene Dietrich
Mar. 30 – Jackie Kennedy
Apr. 13 – Princess Diana **Changed from Mar. 30**
Apr. 20 – Audrey Hepburn

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Jackie Kennedy Onassis

By the time her husband had been elected president, Jackie Kennedy had already made her mark as a fashion trendsetter. Her tenure as first lady gave her an international platform, however. Regardless of the situation, she brought sophistication to whatever she wore, and she did so effortlessly. She made a fashion statement whenever she entered a room. With the help of her favorite designers, like Coco Chanel or Christian Dior, she kept reinventing herself through her clothes and remains to this day one of the world’s most influential fashion icons.

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 – Empress Eugénie
Mar. 23 – Marlene Dietrich
Mar. 30 – Jackie Kennedy **Changed from Mar. 23**
Apr. 13 – Princess Diana
Apr. 20 – Audrey Hepburn

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

 

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Marlene Dietrich

Whenever filming, the German star who once dismissed fashion as a “bore”, insisted on having a full-length mirror positioned on the set, so that she could have a glimpse at herself at any moment. Behind her apparent aloofness towards fashion, Marlene Dietrich always took great pain at curating her image; the image of a beguiling creature whose sense of sophistication and style established her among fashion’s most enduring icons. “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men,”she told the Observer in 1960. And her image lives on…

In the series:

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 –  Empress Eugénie
Mar. 23 – Marlene Dietrich – **changed from Mar. 16**
Mar. 30 – Jackie Kennedy
Apr. 13 – Princess Diana
Apr. 20 – Audrey Hepburn *ADDED LECTURE*

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Empress Eugénie

The last empress consort of the French, a breathtaking Spanish beauty who conquered the heart of Napoleon III, remains one the biggest fashion icons and trendsetters of the 19th century. Known for her sense of style, her elegance and her exquisite tastes, Eugénie presided over the most fashionable of courts, and dominated Europe’s fashion for nearly two decades. She discovered Charles Frederick Worth, the English designer who revolutionized the world of fashion, and through her patronage, made his name famous worldwide.

In the series:

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 – Empress Eugénie
Mar. 16 – Marlene Dietrich
Mar. 23 – Jackie Kennedy
Mar. 30 – Princess Diana

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

 

Five Female Fashion Icons of their Day with Olivier Courteaux

Marie Antoinette

The moment she set foot in France, the Austrian-born princess had to embrace the rigid traditions of the French court, which dictated her every move and what she should wear. Once she became queen, she rebelled. Aware she would not be able to exert much political influence, she turned to fashion to command attention and, with the help of her favorite “designer”, Rose Bertin, established her own style. Her initial success as a fashion trendsetter came at a cost, however. Soon criticized for her extravagance, and accused of dilapidating the French treasury, her unpopularity gained momentum. Yet, her choices in fashion were copied by women all over Europe. Her tragic death only enhanced her aura, and, to this day, her name remains associated with elegance and luxury.

In the series:

Mar. 2 – Marie Antoinette
Mar. 9 – Empress Eugénie
Mar. 23 – Marlene Dietrich
Mar. 30 – Jackie Kennedy
Apr. 13 – Princess Diana
Apr. 30 – Audrey Hepburn** added lecture

Olivier Courteaux received his B.A. in History, M.A. in War and Conflict Studies and Ph.D. in Contemporary International Relations from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He has lectured at various Canadian universities, including Ryerson and the Royal Military College of Canada.

He is the author of The War on Terror: The Canadian Dilemma (2009), Canada Between Vichy and Free France, 1940-1945 (2013) and Quatre Journées qui ébranlèrent le Québec, on Charles de Gaulle’s famous 1967 “Vive le Québec Libre” (2017). His latest books are: The Empress Eugenie at Suez1869 and France and Egypt during the Second Empire.