Editors’ Letter

John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew of Lochnaw graces the cover of our winter issue. Dressed in a flowing white tea gown embellished with a mauve silk sash, she meets the viewer’s gaze directly. It’s an unusual pose for portraits – both then and now – but for a fashion magazine, it’s a killer image. Lady Agnew, original cover girl, circa 1892.

This famous portrait will sit at the heart of Sargent and Fashion, a new exhibition opening at Tate Britain in February that presents Sargent as a painter whose influence on fashion has been felt from the late 1890s to the present. ‘There is now a class who dress after pictures,’ as one contemporaneous author put it, ‘and when they buy a gown ask, “will it paint?”’ Substitute ‘paint’ for ‘photograph’, and the same could easily be said of the fashion-conscious today.

On page 54, expert fashion journalist Sarah Mowerturns her eye to these portraits of gilded-age high society, as well as to the radical set who ‘might have walked straight out of a very recent Alexander McQueen or Prada show’. Elsewhere, curator Midori Yoshimoto describes a memorable encounter with fashion icon Yoko Ono and appraises her transformative participatory artworks that you will soon be able to experience at Tate Modern (page 32).

We are also delighted to introduce Mx Mavis, the alter ego of our new ‘agony artist’, Ajamu X. Mx Mavis will be on hand to offer creative-minded advice, including how to navigate your biggest art crush (page 110).

You might have noticed that this issue has arrived a little earlier than usual. We have shifted to quarterly – which means one more Tate Etc. every year. See you again in the spring!

Tate Etc.


    White Hoods, White Masks

    Philip Guston’s paintings call attention to some of the most urgent issues of his time, and ours. But to what …

    A Fragile Form of Transport

    Jamila Prowse travels to Towner Eastbourne to take in this year’s Turner Prize, reflecting on questions of access, collaboration and …

    Two Sunflowers

    How do you look at abstract art?

    Two artists reflect on a painting by Joan Mitchell

    Against the Flow

    Selby Wynn Schwartz draws on Virginia Woolf’s letters to sketch a portrait of Ethel Walker, an artist who valorised women …

    Fashion Folklore

    Portrait of a Lady, probably Mrs Clement Edmondes reveals some unlikely resonances of royal fashion, writes Liberty McAnena

    The Pearl Age

    Adorned with New World gemstones, Robert Peake’s Lady Elizabeth Pope discloses the global flow of people and resources, writes Momtaza …

    ‘Ever was it thus for the muse’: By Lauren John Joseph

    A society doyenne excitedly shares the news that she is to sit for the portraitist John Singer Sargent

    To See and Be Seen

    Shahidha Bari demystifies the most essential element of opera attire: the cloak

    Haute Portraiture

    Portrait painter to the rich and famous, John Singer Sargent acted like a stylist, manipulating fashion – alongside his trusty …

    Source Material

    A blue silk sari worn by Sutapa Biswas’s mother left a lasting impression on the artist’s imagination

    The Beautiful Blue

    Miriam Cahn’s painting counters simplistic narratives of the migrant experience and grants the viewer imaginative space to practise empathy, writes …

    Redrafting the Real

    Writer and photographer Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa examines the convergence of the factual and the staged in Deana Lawson’s portraits, now on …

    Taste Etc: Ruth Rogers

    Pressed chocolate cake for Philip Guston

    'Danger concentrates the mind'

    Anne Bean recalls the perilous process behind an iconic series of photographs

    Choose Your Own Adventure

    Yoko Ono often invites audiences to participate in simple acts of the imagination or more active encounters with her artworks …

    Agony Artist: Dear Mx Mavis

    Introducing Mx Mavis, Tate Etc.’s resident ‘agony artist’. In the first of a new series, they help solve some of …


    We talk to the artist about his multidisciplinary work, which explores the history of diaspora and imagines new possibilities for …