I’ve written before about the importance of green boots in my novel Paris Red. Victorine Meurent wears green leather boots, and they are part of her identity. Today I want to talk about Manet’s fascination with yellow gloves, and how that fascination came to play a role in my novel.
Even though the figures in the gallery behind the bar aren’t the focus of A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, you can spot a woman wearing fabulous yellow gloves just to the left of the barmaid. (The woman is thought to be Mery Laurent.)
Manet also painted different male friends wearing yellow or gold gloves.The image at the top of the blog post is a detail of Manet’s portrait of Antonin Proust, a friend he knew since school days. Here’s the painting in full:
Manet painted the critic and writer Theodore Duret with a pair of yellow gloves, too—gloves which echo the yellow of the rose in the painting:
I think Manet chose to include yellow or gold gloves in his paintings because he was conscious of the power of the color and wanted to include it in his compositions.
In Paris Red, Manet wears yellow gloves with three seams stitched onto their tops, just like the kind Antonin Proust wears. Without giving too much of the scene away, let me say that Victorine is conscious of how the gloves embody Manet: they retain the shape and warmth of his hands, and their leather smells like his clove cologne.