Habiti delle donne venetiane (Costumes of Venetian Women), ca. 1591–1609
Giacomo Franco (Italian, 1550–1620)
Published Venice: Giacomo Franco
Printed book with engraved plates; Overall 11 x 8 1/4 x 1 in. (28 x 21 x 2.5 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934 (34.68)
This book consists of twenty numbered plates of ornately attired women engraved by Giacomo Franco, each accompanied by a description in Latin and Italian. The work serves as a compendium of Venetian beauties, in which courtesans and respectable women are represented interchangeably, a juxtaposition that may explain why Franco never received a printing privilege for the book. Two plates describe aspects of Venetian wedding ceremonies. In plate 7, Franco depicts the parentado, or the ritual presentation of a bride to her relations. Here, a bride in a richly embroidered dress wearing pearls and a bejeweled crown is presented by her ballerino, a dance instructor who prevented the woman from toppling over in her chopines, or platform shoes. A following engraving illustrates the custom by which a bride would travel by gondola to visit her relatives in convents, a very public display that made the entire city seem a witness to the marriage.