A Pair of Wedding Gloves

Anonymous, 1622
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This pair of gloves from the 1620s are a very rare expression of love and luxury. The exclusive materials, such as colored silk and costly metal thread, small pearls and sequins on white satin, display wealth and status. The motif of a heart pierced by arrows is the symbol of deep love. Beneath the heart is a pair of hands linked together in a handshake, a symbol of the confirmation of marriage and fidelity. The decoration underscores their purpose as bridal gloves. A perfect gift to the bride-to-be, they were often part of the betrothal gift. The delicate embroidery is proof of the anonymous makers’ dexterity. As textiles are very fragile, only a very few objects of this kind are now, after 400 years, still preserved. Those that do survive are consequently even more precious.

The gloves once belonged to Johanna le Maire. She married Pieter van Son in Amsterdam in June of 1622. Her portrait, and a portrait of her husband, were painted to mark the occasion, and on it she is holding the gloves in her right hand. The combination of the portrait and the gloves themselves is very rare and give us a more complete story than the objects would if studied separately.

— Inger Olovsson, Curator, Collections Skokloster Slott, Skokloster

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