Fashion

5 Most Beautiful Dresses in Art

Rachel Witte 6 May 2024 min Read

The cross section where art and fashion meet is two-fold. While beautiful dresses can be art of their own accord, let’s look at beautiful dresses throughout the broader scope of art history.

The Most Beautiful Dresses in Art?

If you were posed with the question of which dresses in art history would top your list, what would your answer be? Klimt’s Woman in Gold? Degas’ ballerinas in their whimsical tutus? John Singer Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X in her black and fitted bodice? Or his painting of the Duchess of Sutherland? Let’s highlight a few of these, and more.

Dresses as Art

In most cases, the painting of the dress stands out more than anything else in the painting. The fact that these artists have been able to render their paintings so realistically is still, to this day, mesmerizing to audiences. What are some of the best paintings of dresses? And how were they able to render them so vividly using just paint?

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka’s paintings are eye-catching for more than one reason. Her noticeable Art Deco style and depiction of the feminine form, put her on the top of this list. With several to choose from, the artwork below sums up the structure of the era, portrayed through the dress the woman is wearing. It displays both femininity and strength all at once.

dresses in art: Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait de Marjorie Ferry, 1932, private collection. Barnebys.

Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait de Marjorie Ferry, 1932, private collection. Barnebys.

John Singer Sargent

One of the most sought-after portrait artists of his time, John Singer Sargent’s paintings give us a lot to choose from in regards to beautiful dresses.

You can see Nicole Kidman sitting as John Singer Sargent’s model, here.

And check out this article to see more of his portraits.

dresses in art: John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1883–1884, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), 1883–1884, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA.

dresses in art: John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, 1904, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland, 1904, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

Sir Frederick Leighton

The following painting, Flaming June by Sir Frederick Leighton, depicts a woman enjoying a nap. Her orange-hued dress appears light, flowy, and most of all, comfortable. It looks much like something many of us will be pulling out of our closets to survive the upcoming warmer months.

dresses in art: Frederic Leighton, Flaming June, ca. 1895, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Frederic Leighton, Flaming June, ca. 1895, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Gustav Klimt

This next one doesn’t need much of an explanation. After all, the painting below has been a focus for a while in the art world. While it doesn’t appear as comfortable as Sir Frederick Leighton’s Flaming June, Klimt’s design for Adele Bloch-Bauer’s dress looks fit for a queen. The combination of what seem to be varying cultural aesthetics make this one a forever contender for the most beautiful dress in art.

dresses in art: Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, Neue Galerie, New York, NY, USA.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, Neue Galerie, New York, NY, USA.

Edgar Degas

Degas’ whimsical ballerinas make him and his paintings a front runner of the most beautiful dresses. His ballerinas remain, to this day, some of the most beautiful works to come out of the Impressionist era. Below, the ballerinas’ costumes in the forefront are bright, a mixture of blue and green and speckled with various notes of black, white, and orange. The artists’ oeuvre is filled with colorful tutus on his ballerina subjects.

dresses in art: Edgar Degas, Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green), 1877–1879, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

Edgar Degas, Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green), 1877–1879, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.

Vibrant and Vivid Textures of Beautiful Dresses in Art

It is crazy that artists have been able to create such vivid textures and vibrant colors using just light, shadow, and shading. Continue on to see a few more fantastic dresses that were not on this list.

dresses in art: Augustus Egg, The Travelling Companions, 1862, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Wikimedia Commons (public domain). Detail.

Augustus Egg, The Travelling Companions, 1862, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. Wikimedia Commons (public domain). Detail.

dresses in art: Peter Paul Rubens (workshop), Portrait of Anne of Austria, ca. 1628, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Detail.

Peter Paul Rubens (workshop), Portrait of Anne of Austria, ca. 1628, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Detail.

dresses in art: Eglon Hendrick van der Neer, Judith, 1678, National Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

Eglon Hendrick van der Neer, Judith, 1678, National Gallery, London, UK. Detail.

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