Belt with Profiles of Half-Length Figures, Basse taille enamel, silver-gilt, mounted on textile belt, Italian

Belt with Profiles of Half-Length Figures

ca. 1350–1400
Basse taille enamel, silver-gilt, mounted on textile belt
69 x 1 x 11/16 in. (175.3 x 2.5 x 1.7 cm)
Other (textile belt width): 1/2 in. (1.2 cm)
Enamels-Basse taille
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
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.
J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (until 1917)
Verdier, Philippe, Peter Brieger, and Marie Farquhar Montpetit, ed. Art and the Courts: France and England from 1259-1328. Vol. 1. Ottowa: National Gallery of Canada, 1972. p. 145.

Bayer, Andrea, ed. Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008. no. 36a, pp. 104-105.