Girdle, late 14th century
Italy; Venice (?)
Basse taille enamel and silver–gilt plaques, mounted on a woven band; Overall 69 x 1 x 11/16 in. (175.3 x 2.5 x 1.7 cm); belt: 1/2 in. (1.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.963)
Extravagant girdles used to cinch the fall of clothing at the waist were often part of betrothal gifts, dowries, and counter-dowries (given by the groom). One of the stories of Boccaccio's Decameron (1349–52) included girdles, along with rings, as gifts for a new bride. Intact girdles such as this one are rare. It would have been worn under the breasts, pulled through the buckle—here in the form of a curving figure—and then hanging to the ground, its gilt details and enameling catching the light. The enamel technique known as basse taille allows the silver below to shine through the translucent enamels.