Puja Patel

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Stephanie Jeanjean

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


Women’s fashion is abundant in Impressionist paintings. As participants of what
many consider the first modern art movement, they painted scenes of modern life, and women’s fashion symbolized modernity in the newly transformed Paris. Beyond the clothing itself, the industry of women’s fashion and its role in these artists’ society found its way into Impressionist works. Most notably, the emergence of department stores significantly impacted Parisian society and therefore the lives of Impressionists. Women impressionists experienced a decidedly different relationship to fashion and shopping than their male counterparts did, which is in turn reflected in comparisons of their paintings. In analyzing class and gender among the Impressionists, this study argues the separate and unequal ways that the fashion industry impacted their works. This study finds that the women’s fashion industry of Paris in the mid to late 19th century directly contributed to Impressionist painting through Impressionist artists’ affinity for modernity,
the personal relationship with fashion that women Impressionists experienced, and in the prevalence of consumerism fostered by women’s clothing stores in their society.