Isaac Israels preferred quite different subjects from those painted by his father, the Hague School painter Jozef Israels. Rather than concerning himself with the lives of fisherfolk and farm workers, Isaac threw himself into the bustle and excitement of city life.
Around 1900 he was introduced to Hirsch, a famous fashion house in Amsterdam, and later to the couturier Paquin in Paris. There he was drawn into the whirlwind of the haute couture world, with its elegant clientele on the one hand and the drudgery of the sweatshops on the other. Another Parisian fashion house, Drecoll, allowed him to see behind the scenes. In the period following the First World War, he even obtained permission to work in Hirsch's changing rooms. The series of on-the-spot paintings of mannequins that he made there are an important part of his oeuvre. In this exhibition, these paintings are displayed side-by-side with the garments depicted in them, some from Hirsch itself, and with additional photographs, prints and archive material about the fashion house. The result is an evocation of a vanished world of high fashion and luxury, contrasted with the everyday life of the hard-working seamstresses.