Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Inspiring the Artist

For centuries shoes and shoemakers have inspired artists.  From devotional depictions of the shoemaking saints to evocative interpretations of the elegant high heel, artists have explored footwear's rich symbolism and striking shapes in myriad artworks.  Currently on display until early 2012, Art in Shoes ~ Shoes in Art highlights the Bata Shoe Museum's own collection of shoe-related artworks from rare 15th century woodblock prints to whimsical 20th century sculptures.

La laborieuse cordonniere by Charles Philippon. French and English c. 1835


Historically, shoemaking was a predominately male profession but in the 19th century the advent of industrialization saw many women employed to bind uppers.  The colour lithograph (above) depicts one of these workers as a lovely young woman putting the finishing touches on an assortment of fashionalble footwear.

Adelaides, 1830s-40s


This pair of ankle boots (above) date to the period of the print and are very similar to the pair being made by the young shoemaker.  Upper-class women's footwear in the first half of the 19th century was often made using luxury materials such as silk and fine wool and all the details on the footwear were hand-finished.  Fashionable women's footwear was also remarkably narrow.

Habit de Coronnier by Gerard Valck, Dutch, 1690s.

Gerard Valck was inspired by Nicolas de Larmessin II's Costumes Grotesques: Habit d'Arifice and created even more fantastical costumes for his own prints.  Shoes and shoemaker's tool are cleverly used to construct the shoemaker's outfit. The cuffs of his jacket are decorated with pigs bristles, his belt displays shoe lasts and his hat is comprised of fashionable shoes for men and women.

German or Austrian, 1680-1730

The elegant pewter guild flask in the shape of a shoe with a square toe and a screw top was probably a presentation gift.  The honoured guests or presenters names are engraved on the sole of the shoes, indicating their titles: Stefan Walder, Oberzechmeister, Franz Eglseder, Jungmeister and Alebede Marg, Meister.

1 comment:

  1. Shoe making is an ancient art. Your post provides an insight into the history of shoe making. Its right that it was considered as a male occupation but things have changed tremendoulsy since then.

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