Gloves of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II
Early 13th century, before 1220
Vienna, Weltliche Schatzkammer
Circumference of the wrist opening: 24 (25) cm Length from the wrist to the point of the middle finger: 25.5 (27) cm
Source: Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Secular Treasury
Textile; Red samite, gold embroidery, gold appliqués with cellular enamel, niello plates, pearls, rubies, sapphires, amethysts, garnets, spinels, corundums
The gloves, cut from red, unpatterned samite, are densely decorated on the backs of the hands. Gold tendrils, embroidered using the lay-on technique, fill the ground on which enamel plates, precious stones and pearls are fixed. A centrally arranged cell enamel applique in the form of a palmette is framed by pointed oval shields, each of which has a bird’s head. Between the heads, the left glove has a five-sided nielloed plate with the bust of an angel, which is probably a 14th-century addition. In the same place on the right glove is the remains of what was once a star-shaped enamel. Round enamels are attached to the roots of the index and ring fingers of both gloves, each depicting a one-tailed siren. The inner surfaces of both gloves, like the backs of the hands, are embroidered with gold tendrils using the donning technique. In addition, they show a single-headed eagle with a nimbus (halo), which is the heraldic symbol of the Hohenstaufen Empire. On the right glove, this embroidery has largely failed, so that the dark preliminary drawing of the motif is visible. A narrow border bordered at the top and bottom by double rows of pearls is attached to the lower edge of the gloves. Enamel plates, precious stones, gold embroidery and individually sewn-on pearls fill the red silk background. The enamels are stylistically related to the decoration of the scabbard of the ceremonial sword (inv. no. SK_WS_XIII_16) and the crown of Constance, the wife of Frederick II, kept in Palermo. The agreements support the assumption that that the gloves for the coronation of Frederick II were made in 1220. They are probably mentioned for the first time in the handover inventory from 1246, in which “two gloves with precious stones” are listed.
- OBJECT LOCATION: Imperial Treasury Vienna, room 10
- OBJECT LABEL Textile; liturgical garment; coronation regalia
- CULTURE; Palermo
- DATING; before 1220
- DIMENSIONS; L. 26.3 or 27.7 cm, W. 12 cm
- INVENTORY NO. Treasury, WS XIII 11
Source: Schuette, Marie and Sigrid Muller-Christensen: Pictorial History of Embroidery ; NY: Frederick Praeger, 1964.
Red silk. Gold embroidery in couched work. The back of the hand is rechley embroidered with pearls, rubies, sapphires and enamelled plawues (four of the latter have been lost and replaced by others). On the inner side, a single-headed nimbed eagle. The gloves were made in the Royal Workshops of Sicily for the Emperor Frederick II and were worn by him at his coronation in 1220.
Lit.: H. Fillitz, Die Insignien und Kleinodien des Heiligen, Romischen Reiches. Vienna- Munich 1954, p. 59, figs. 31, 32 – P. E. Schramm und F. Mutherich, Denkmale der deutschen Konige und Kaiser, Munich 1962, p. 190, No. 200
Some Images kindly provided by Prof Michael Greenhalgh, and Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Secular Treasury