Pair of gloves

Date: 1620–40

Culture: British or Dutch

Medium: Leather; silk worked with silk and metal thread, spangles; long-and-short, satin, knots, and couching stitches; metal bobbin lace

Dimensions: L. 12 1/2 x W. 5 3/4 inches (31.8 x 14.6 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Edward S. Harkness, 1928

Accession Number: 28.220.3, .4


Gloves are replete with associations to love, honor, and loyalty, and these accessories played an important symbolic role in the portraiture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a surrogate for their owner, gloves could be indicative of both romantic love or political allegiance, as when a woman's glove was bestowed upon her chosen contestant to be worn in a tournament.

The gauntlets on this pair of gloves contain small birds and flaming hearts, surely symbols of romantic devotion. The symbol of the flaming heart in a cartouche also appears in a Dutch collection of embroidery designs for fashionable accessories, dating to the 1620s, in the Museum's collection.