No 17th-century ensemble was complete without gloves and this particularly lavish pair would have belonged to someone well-born and very wealthy.
Ownership & Use
In an age when personal hygiene involved the masking of body odours rather than washing them away, gloves were often perfumed. Recipes for scenting gloves survive from the 17th century using ingredients such as musk, ambergris, floral extracts and aromatic spices.
Materials & Making
This richly decorated leather glove has silver and silver-gilt embroidery on the gauntlet, with an underlay of coral-coloured silk ribbon. The precious metals have been applied in a variety of forms: strip (broad, flat length of metal), purl (a tube of densely coiled metal), thread (a thin strip of metal wrapped around a linen or silk thread) and spangles (known now as sequins).
As the 17th century progressed, the shape of gloves changed. The gauntlets became smaller and the length of the fingers shortened to more natural proportions. The embroidery is much denser than at the beginning of the 17th century, with a preference for metal thread over coloured silks.