The Art of Widowhood

December 4, 2014 9:40 PM

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"Widow's weeds" originally intended to simplify the female form and shroud a woman's grief, but the Metropolitan's new exhibit "Death Becomes Her" proves that these ensembles did just the opposite. The sable dresses and veils not only externalized the woman's emotions but also made the woman appear more sexualized and mysterious.

"Black is becoming: and young widows, fair, plump, and smiling, with their roguish eyes sparkling under their black veils are very seducing," writes Robert de Valcourt in The Illustrated Manners Book from 1855. The quote, among many others on widowhood, is projected on the walls behind the lacy blac...

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