The high platform shoes known as chopines came into fashion in Venice in the sixteenth century. Awkward yet practical, they served to keep the wearer's precariously perched feet from getting wet or soiled in the city's perpetually damp byways and also to signal her elevated social status. It was once thought that very high chopines, as much as twenty inches, were worn by courtesans to establish a highly visible public profile. Like expensive jewels and silk gowns, chopines were favored both by patrician women and the successful courtesans who contrived to emulate their appearance by donning expensive finery. Such fancy footwear does not unequivocally signal that its owner was a courtesan, but the chopines-shod woman in Pietro Bertelli's erotic flap print (55.503.30) undoubtedly represents that niche of society.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Vanity Fair: A Treasure Trove from the Costume Institute," December 15, 1977–September 3, 1978.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fashion and History: A Dialogue," December 7, 1992–March 21, 1993.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed," December 4, 2001–March 17, 2002.
Saint Louis Art Museum. "Vanity Fair: Four Centuries of Fashion from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 3, 1979–April 1, 1979.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion," November 18, 2016–February 5, 2017.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Patterns of Collecting: Selected Acquisition 1965–1975," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976.
Kimbell Art Museum. "Love and Marriage in Italian Renaissance Art," March 15, 2009–June 14, 2009.
Brooklyn Museum. "Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe," September 10, 2014–February 15, 2015.