A YOUNG VENETIAN OF THE SOCIETY DE LA CALZA.
Middle Ages, Early Renaissance era.
The Society of La Calza was an association of young Venetian noblemen and a few strangers of high rank, who, with the sanction of the magistrates, bound themselves by the ties of procal friendship, and had for their object the pursuit of honorable pleasures.
They gave, at their own expense, public fetes, accompanied with theatrical representations. They met together to discourse music, to hold gondola races, to celebrate masquerades, and for every kind of innocent amusement. In order to recognize each other in the public fetes, they wore the right stocking ornamented with various colors, and even with embroideries of gold, of silver, or of pearls.
The young man of this Society whom our plate represents is drawn and colored after a picture of Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1525/26), preserved in the Academy of Fine Arts at Venice. The bonnet is of violet velvet, enriched with golden embroideries and ornaments; the jacket is of green velvet, with a narrow red border below; the doublet is black, and permits the shirt to be seen; the left stocking is adorned with white and black stripes; the right stocking is scarlet, ornamented with two palm branches, and with an embroidery of pearls upon the thigh; the gloves are yellow.
Source: Select historical costumes compiled from the most reliable sources by Henry Hinton. Published: 1868. Publisher: New York Wynkoop & Sherwood.
The Society De la Calza
The society De la Calza (of the stocking) was formed in Venice in the year 1400 to the honor of inauguration of the doge Michele Steno (around 1331-1413). The employments of the members were conversation and festivity; and so splendid were the entertainments of music and dancing, that the gay spirits of other parts of Italy anxiously solicited the honor of seats in the society.
All their statutes regarded only the ceremonies of the ball or the theatre; and the members being resolved on their rigorous performance, took an oath in a church to that tendency. They had banners and a seal like an authorized order of knighthood. Their dress was as splendid and elegant as Venetian luxury a taste could fashion it; and consistent with the singular Italian custom of marking their academies and other intellectual associations by some external signs of folly, the members when they met in literary discussion were distinguished by the colors of their stocking.
The colors were sometimes fantastically blended; and at other times one color, particularly the blue prevailed. The society De la Calza lasted till the year 1590 when the foppery of Italian literature took some other symbol. The rejected title then crossed the Alps and found a congenial soil in the flippancy and literary triflings of Parisian society, and particularly branded female pedantry, as the strongest feature in the character of French pretension.
It diverged from France to England and for a while marked the vanity of the small advances in literature of the female coteries; but the propriety of its application is now gradually ceasing; for we see in every circle that attainments in literature can be accomplished with no loss of womanly modesty.
It is in this country, above all others that knowledge asserts her right of general dominion, or contends, that, if she be the sustaining energy of one sex, she forms the lighter charm the graceful drapery of the other.
Source: La Belle Assemblée: or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine. British women’s magazine published from 1806 to 1837, founded by John Bell (1745–1831).