Sunday, February 2, 2014

History's Runway: A Pair of Painted Spanish Gloves, 1800-1820

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This pair of women's gloves of cream kid leather is printed with a neo-classical design printed in black outline which was then and hand-painted. The gloves come from Spain and date to between 1800 and 1820. Probably made for export to the U.K., the gloves epitomize the trend of the era for neoclassical iconography.

Furthermore, gloves of this style were very fashionable in England at the early part of the Nineteenth Century. Many such gloves originated in Spain. The origins of this pair are clear by the caption beneath the image which reads, “'Venus y las tres Gracias.”

As the name would suggest, the image depicts Venus and the three Graces (Thalia, Aglaia and Euphrosine) together with Cupid and reminds the wearer of the idea that beauty and love will disarm and triumph over force.

Gloves were a customary gift and one of the few tokens that etiquette decreed a gentleman could, with propriety, present to a lady who was not his wife.

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