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Pair of Mittens thumbnail 2
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Pair of Mittens

1595-1603 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This mitten had a decorative rather than practical function. Like many of the embroidered gloves made during this period, its purpose was to show off the wearer's wealth and status.

Materials & Making
The crimson silk velvet mitten has a richly embroidered white satin gauntlet. The embroidery features silver and silver-gilt thread and purl, with couched work and coloured silks and is worked in long and short and satin stitches.

Subjects Depicted
Familiar flowers such as borage, pinks and lilies, as well as insects and fruits, scattered amongst the foliage, adorn the gauntlet. In the centre of each cuff and repeated back and front, is a pillar entwined with a sprouting vine. It may have been inspired by similar motifs in Geffrey Whitney's book, 'A Choice of Emblemes', (1586). Full of 'devices' or emblems (images associated with moral or allegorical tales), Whitney's 'Choice' was the first English emblem book and a great influence on design of the decorative arts during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Although the precise meanings of many devices are lost today, they would have communicated from the wearer to observers in the way that badges and logos do today.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Mitten
  • Mitten
Materials and Techniques
Silk, silver, gold; hand woven velvet and satin, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn
Brief Description
Pair of man's or woman's mittens of crimson silk velvet and white silk satin, c1600, English
Physical Description
Pair of man's or woman's mittens with crimson silk velvet hands, lined with crimson silk taffeta and white silk satin 'tops' [cuffs or gauntlets], lined with tawny silk velvet. The crimson velvet hands have a horizontal opening at the top of the palm; this and all the seams are covered with narrow woven lace [braid] of silver filé. The white satin cuffs are embroidered with coloured silk floss in long and short and satin stitches, and couched with silver and silver-gilt filé, purl and spangles in a pattern of flowers, insects and obelisks.



The silver edging on the right hand has worn away and the seams have been roughly re-stitched.
Dimensions
  • Length: 40.5cm (approx)
  • 1507 1882 width: 21.0cm (approx)
  • 1507 a 1882 length: 40.5cm (approx)
  • 1507 a 1882 width: 20.5cm (approx)
Dimensions checked: Measured; 17/03/1999 by H.Wilkinson
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Courtiers frequently presented embroidered and scented gloves as gifts. On these mittens you can see flowers, insects and a pillar entwined with a vine. Such details often had symbolic meaning for those giving or receiving these very personal gifts, although the imagery may now be obscure.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Sir Edward Denny
Object history
Embroidered in England; said to have been a gift from Elizabeth I to her maid of honour, Margaret Edgcumbe (1560-1648), wife of Sir Edward Denny (1547-1599). Given by a descendant, Sir Edward Denny.



From the Annual Register of 1759:

“At the sale of the Earl of Arran’s curiosities in Covent Garden the Gloves given by King Henry the 8th to Sir Anthy. Denny were sold for £38.17.0, the Gloves given by King James the 1st to Edwd. Denny Esq (son of Sir Anthy.) for £22.1.0, the mittens given by Queen Elizth. to Sir Edwd. Denny’s lady for £25.4.0 and the Scarf given by King Charles the 1st for £10.10.0, all of which were bought for Sir Thomas Denny of Ireland, who is lineally descended from the said Sir Anthony Denny, one of the Executors of King Henry the VIII.”
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This mitten had a decorative rather than practical function. Like many of the embroidered gloves made during this period, its purpose was to show off the wearer's wealth and status.

Materials & Making
The crimson silk velvet mitten has a richly embroidered white satin gauntlet. The embroidery features silver and silver-gilt thread and purl, with couched work and coloured silks and is worked in long and short and satin stitches.

Subjects Depicted
Familiar flowers such as borage, pinks and lilies, as well as insects and fruits, scattered amongst the foliage, adorn the gauntlet. In the centre of each cuff and repeated back and front, is a pillar entwined with a sprouting vine. It may have been inspired by similar motifs in Geffrey Whitney's book, 'A Choice of Emblemes', (1586). Full of 'devices' or emblems (images associated with moral or allegorical tales), Whitney's 'Choice' was the first English emblem book and a great influence on design of the decorative arts during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Although the precise meanings of many devices are lost today, they would have communicated from the wearer to observers in the way that badges and logos do today.
Bibliographic References
  • Arnold, Wardrobe Unlock'd, pp. 99-104, 174-5; Hart and North, Historicla Fashion, p. 206; Nichols, Progresses and Processions
  • John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, pp.91-92, plate LXVI
  • Doran, Susan (ed.), Elizabeth: The Exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, London: Chatto & Windus, 2003
Collection
Accession Number
1507&A-1882

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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