The Philadelphia Museum of Art is showing its collection of miser’s purses–those once ubiquitous accessories used to store coins and other small objects of value in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (These were the must-have Birkin bags of the Victorian era smart set. Of course some are a little more Judith Leiber.) This new installation, From Money to Marriage: Miser’s Purses, shows more than two dozen examples from the Museum’s collection, alongside period illustrations and English artist James Collinson’s painting For Sale, from about 1855–60, which features a young woman holding a miser’s purse.
If you put the valuables from all these purses together, you might get your hands on one of Fernand Léger’s modern metropolis paintings, many of which are also on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The multi-media exhibition Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis (open until January 5, 2014) sheds new light on the vitally experimental decade of the 1920s in Paris with Léger and his monumental painting The City (1919) front and center. Other artists who tapped into the excitement of the metropolis of the time are also represented, including Cassandre, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Theo van Doesburg, Alexandra Exter, Abel Gance, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Gerald Murphy, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray, among others.