DETAIL IN FOCUS
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
In 17th century Europe, the well-dressed and well-to-do wouldn't be caught in public without their gloves. They were an indispensable accessory that also were used to convey status and wealth. The more dazzling the details, the better! In this pair, the sparkle is all in the cuffs.
These elaborate cuffs are made of the most luxurious and costly materials. Lined with silk taffeta, they are meticulously embroidered with silver-gilt yarn and coloured silk and edged with bobbin lace in silver gilt and sequins. Their decoration includes flowers, cornucopias at the sides of a vase with ears of wheat and doves set amid the branches on the ground pattern. The outlines of the cornucopias and vases are set off by rows of tiny pearls, while the ground, flowers and leaves are decorated with silver-gilt sequins.
The form of the cuffs and the naturalistic rendering of the decorative details enable us to date the gloves to between 1630 and 1650. It's remarkable that some of the delicate pearls and silver-gilt sequins still survive after more than 400 years. With the sparkling sequins and lustrous pearls against the smooth white kidskin, the original effect would have been dazzling. Moreover, the embroidered designs of the cornucopia and birds would have been viewed right side up, and therefore to best advantage by someone the gloves would have been well seen by someone looking at the wearer. Use the zoom viewer here to take a closer look.