When I went to the National Portrait Gallery in London for the first time I didn’t know much about British history and its main personalities. It was hard to truly enjoy the portraits of famous people of Great Britain. Names of the sitters and artists didn’t tell me much so very soon I found myself bored. Until the moment a very nice pair of footwear caught my eye.
The next thing I did was taking pictures of each footwear on canvases I saw in that gallery. At that moment I felt very excited and motivated to run around looking for another pair of nice shoes.
Next months wherever I went I took a picture of footwear. Very soon I realised that I already have some collection to compare: from National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery and the Houses of Parliament. Most painters were English (for example, Robert Peake the Elder, William Larkin, William Hogarth, Thomas Hawker and Thomas Hudson) but there were also fragments of canvases by a French painter Louis Gabriel Blanchet,Flemish painter who became popular in England, Anthony van Dyck and Dutch painters Daniël Mijtens and Gerbrand van den Eeckhout. As a result I got a collection of mostly English footwear fashion among noble class and that was worn by men.
For a long time I was looking at these pictures but I didn’t understanding what I could write about footwear of XVI-XVIII centuries. I looked thought some books and articles — I got random ideas but it was hard to visualisein my mind fashion in footwear without look ingat the pictures.
Keeping in mind Tchaikovsky’s words that there would be no inspiration if there would be no work done I started sorting out the pictures. Dates, centuries, shoes. When groups of pictures were ready I realised that something was wrong: I couldn’t see any pattern, any significant difference between centuries because, for example, some shoes from XVII century was so similar to some pairs of shoes from XVIII century. After some investigation I found my mistakes in titles and dates. After correction it was clear: this is XVI, this is XVII and that is XVII century. Do you see the diffrences now?
Shoes in XVI century
Comfortable simple shoes mostly made of cloth (probably, silk). No heels
Shoes in XVII century
in the first half of the century: Fancy shoes with floral decoration. In the second half floral elments were changed to a bow. Mostly ight colours were used for foowear at that period.
Shoes in XVIII century
It was time for leather buckled shoes. Many of them were black with golden buckles and 1-2 inches heels. Royal buckles were decorated with precious stones.