It might sound like an intriguing formula in its own right, but stage it in a gallery specialising in Tudor, Stuart and northern European portraiture and it gets an extra twist.
Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World (May 16-31) is the most recent in a series of shows that are out of the ordinary for St James’s Weiss Gallery.
One show last year focused on the work of Ivor Weiss (father of dealership owner Mark Weiss), while another offered contemporary accessories and miniatures alongside historic paintings.
Now, coinciding with Photo London, this exhibition comprises 60 works by contemporary photographer Carla van de Puttelaar.
Inspired by historical portraits, the subjects are presented in extravagant fashions against dark backgrounds, making it easy to see them as the spiritual descendants of the paintings usually on the gallery’s walls.
“This project, combining as it does my passion for the human face and form, showcases Carla’s genius in dramatically capturing the personality of her sitters,” Weiss says. Each photo seeks to explore female power and vulnerability.
Among the sitters are Maria Balshaw CBE, director of the Tate museums and galleries, Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis, Lidewij de Koekkoek, director of the Rembrandthuis and Catharine MacLeod, curator of 17th century portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. All are dressed in haute couture by well-known designers.
Prices range from £2500-12,000.