Alessandro Allori, Portrait of a Lady, about 1555, oil on panel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Public Domain Image. Wikimedia Commons.

While gloves served the practical purposes of warmth and protection, they were also fashion accessories , emblematic of status, fidelity, love, ceremony, religiosity and political allegiance. In some cultures gloves were given as wedding, funeral and courtship gifts – quite often being perfumed prior to distribution. Some historians have even posited the notion that gloves were fetish items, possessing magical or thaumaturgical qualities.

For such commonplace material objects, the discussions surrounding gloves in Early Modern art are many and varied, therefore it is an impossible task to attempt to coalesce this mountain of arguments and ideas into a single blog post. Accordingly, this little piece is designed to whet readers’ appetites for further investigations/discussions on the subject and encourage gallery visitors and internet “image scrollers” to look closely at the art of the period… because if there are gloves included within an artwork, the symbolic possibilities of these items are manifold.

Titian, Man with Cap and Gloves, between 1512-1515, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London. Public Domain Image. Wikimedia Commons.
Titian, Sacred and Profane Love, 1514, oil on canvas, Galleria Borghese, Rome. Public Domain Image. Wikimedia Commons.
Parmigiano, Portrait of Antea, 1530-1535, oil on canvas, National Museum of Capodimonte. Public Domain Image. Wikimedia Commons.
Caravaggio, The Cardsharps, about 1595, oil on canvas, Kimball Art Museum, Texas. Public Domain Image. Wikimedia Commons.

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