Fashion in the Museum: The Crocker Art Museum


This past weekend I made a trip up to Sacramento to visit the Crocker Art Museum – and mainly to see their exhibit on California plein-air paniter, Edgar Payne. However, I was quickly reminded that fashion history can pop up anywhere (I have had similar reminders while on jaunts to other unfamiliar California Museums). In this case, I was particularly excited because so much of the work related not only to fashion and clothing history, but also to California history.

Jeannie Crocker's broach (by Tiffany & Co), c1880

The rooms devoted to the history of the Crocker Art Museum itself held the largest ‘cash’ of fashion related objects. These were full of fascinating and beautiful pieces relating to Margaret Crocker and the rest of the Crocker family, including three stunning 1870s-80s broaches (two by Tiffany and Co.), a related portrait of Margaret Crocker wearing one of the broaches (dating to 1877), an 1860s hair wreath, and a group of Crocker family photographs, among other things.

Several other paintings in the museum’s California history collection held my interest for more than a few minutes, including two lovely portraits, one of Little Miss San Francisco (painted in 1853) and another of Mary Blanche Hubbard by California artist Mary Curtis Richardson (painted in 1889 and reminded me of John Singer Sargent’s work and which the museum compared to Whistler).

Little Miss San Francisco by Charles Christian Nahl, 1853
Portrait of Mary Blanche Hubbard by Mary Curtis Richardson, 1889












On other floors, I found still more examples of fashionable and ethnic dress – from African Kente Cloth (Ghana) and an Indigo-dyed man’s robe (Nigeria) to Japanese tomesode (a type of kimono) and 17th century samurai armor to an Indonesian Spirit Costume (Papua) made almost entirely of rattan.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Crocker Art Museum and loved the surprises I found there. I hope you’ll enjoy the small set of photos from my visit below (including the full labels for each object)

*Convalescence by William Hahn, 1873 (San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El and the First Congregational Church can be seen in the parlor window)

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