Glove Story of the Week - East Meets West | The Fashion Museum

Glove Story of the Week - East Meets West

Welcome to Week Four of our new series showcasing the world-class Glove Collection of the Worshipful Company of the Glovers of London, cared for and housed here in Bath at the Fashion Museum.

1 March 2019

This week we are celebrating the opening of our brand new display Glove Stories with one of its star objects; a beautiful pair of knitted mittens in terracotta-pink silk and linen. Dating from about 1700-1725, these finely knitted mittens feature a design of Ottoman carnations and pomegranates worked in yellow, white and green silk threads.

GCT 23417 & A ca. 18th century, Pair, Top & under side view, Landscape.JPGThe mittens were catalogued in the past as ‘Southern Europe’, which we believe means they are probably of Italian or Spanish provenance. Both countries were areas of Ottoman influence and design in the Renaissance and early modern period, whether from trade between East and West in city states such as Venice, or through Islamic cultural assimilation in parts of southern Spain.

LOAN (GCT) BATMC_GLO_23417 & A (LOAN) detail 1 ca 1700.jpgLOAN (GCT) BATMC_GLO_23417 & A (LOAN) detail 2 ca 1700.jpgA key element of the Glove Collection of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London is the Spence Collection, a grouping of over 100 single and pairs of historical gloves all carefully collected by artist Robert Spence. Spence trained at the Slade School of Art and collected historical gloves to inform his own artwork.

These knitted mittens are a very special part of the Spence collection, something touched upon in an article in Country Life magazine from 1 October 1921:

“The collection [of Mr Robert Spence] is probably the most important in the world, and comprises about sixty pairs of gloves and mittens ranging from the fifteenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth. The most wonderful part of it is the section of knitted gloves, of which early specimens are very rare”.

Robert Spence donated his collection of gloves to the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London in 1959 and they have been looked after by curators at the Fashion Museum since the mid-1980s. The Fashion Museum has a long-standing association with the Company and plays a key role in helping fulfil its charitable purpose of making the gloves in its collection accessible to a wide audience through exhibitions and displays, loans to other museums, and ensuring the gloves are available for viewing by anyone who is interested at the Fashion Museum Study Facilities.

LOAN (GCT) BATMC_GLO_23417 & A (LOAN) ca 1700.jpgOur new display Glove Stories will see 150 pairs and single gloves woven throughout the A History of Fashion in 100 Objects exhibition, showcasing the breadth and depth of this magnificent Glove Collection. Visitors will encounter exquisite examples of historical gloves from the past 400 years, many of which have never been displayed to the public before.

This is the culmination of a two year project to bring together the many different gloves owned by the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London in one place so they can be more easily catalogued, cared for, and accessible to all.

Rosemary Harden, Fashion Museum Manager says, “Glove Stories is a celebration of the long-standing relationship between the Fashion Museum and The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London. The Company has most generously loaned their superb Glove Collection to the Museum since the 1980s. For some years now we have been conscious that different gloves in the Collection have been housed in different locations. So, two years ago we set about bringing all the gloves in the Collection together under one roof at the Fashion Museum in Bath, so that they can be more easily presented on display and brought to the attention of a wider audience.”

The display will feature 24 ‘interventions’ or groupings of gloves throughout the Museum galleries and will focus on uncovering unique and different stories, while also celebrating the incredible craftsmanship and skills involved in this often overlooked area of fashion along the way.

Highlights include a curious pair of gloves in a walnut shell from the 1830s and the Duke of Edinburgh’s carriage-driving gloves. Glove Stories also touches on outer space with a Soviet cosmonaut’s glove and a glove worn by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Glove Stories is on display from 2 March 2019 to 1 March 2020. To celebrate we are highlighting one fabulous pair of gloves from this wonderful collection every week.

Glove images courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London.