The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

This fashionable and highly decorative glove of rich cream kid reflects the trend for neo-classicism which epitomized dress in the early part of the nineteenth century. Printed gloves of this style were fashionable in England and throughout Europe but are said to have originated in Spain. This fine example is of Spanish origin, as can be seen by the caption underneath the image: 'Venus y las tres Gracias'. The image depicts Venus and the three Graces (Thalia, Aglaia and Euphrosine) together with Cupid. The story is taken from Greek mythology and the legend of the love affair between Mars, the god of war, and Venus, the goddess of love. It corresponds to the idea that beauty and love will disarm and triumph over force.

The glove illustrated is a homage to and symbolic of love. Throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was the custom to give gloves on many social occasions. Etiquette decreed that gloves were one of the few gifts which a gentleman could with propriety present to a lady who was not his wife.

The pattern of the glove is cut with 'quirks' and 'fourchettes', but there are no 'points' as the backs were left plain in order to accommodate the printed and hand-coloured design. An elegant border depicting myrtle, the symbol of love and also an attibute of Venus, runs around the wrist. A threaded, madder-dyed pink ribbon completes the applied decoration. The cuff is scalloped and pinked to give added refinement and delicacy to the design of the glove.

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  • Title: Gloves
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800/1820
  • Location: Spain
  • Provenance: Given by Messrs Harrods Ltd.
  • Medium: Kid leather, printed in black, hand coloured


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