Friday, January 15, 2016

Red Pumps With Moosehair Embroidery, 1850-1875

Red shoes -- what is it about red shoes? No matter what the style or the era or material - they hold our interest, perhaps more so than any other footwear (except maybe Cinderella's glass slippers.)

I recently came across this intriguing pair of mid to later 19th century pumps in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. According to the object label, they are a “Pair of red wool pumps with red leather covered Louis heel. The wool with Native American (Huron-Wendat) moosehair embroidery depicting colourful flowers.” Originating in North America, the maker is unknown.[1]

In the design, we see the Victorian style associated with footwear of this period – rich embellishment adorns the uppers with especially detailed ornament at the toe. The skill of the stitching for the red leather clad Louis or French heel is especially interesting in a time when many shoe makers were opting for a “knock on” heel. The shoes are well-made and the design, well-balanced and proportioned – a visual delight.

All images are courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

[1] Additional reading:

Phillips, Ruth B., Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700-1900. (Seattle & London, 1998)

A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World: an epic story of art, culture, science, and trade, Padilla, Carmella, ed.. SkiraRizzoli, 2015

A Perfect Red. Greenfield, Amy Butler, Harper-Collins, 2005

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