Venetian Ladies, before 1510

by Vittore Carpaccio
Museo Correr, Venezia

The high-waisted dress style seen here also appears in a drawing of a Venetian lady by Dürer from about the same time, so it seems to have been typical. The Dürer lady also wears the same peculiar hairstyle. The two here look somewhat bored, so they must be members of the idle upper class, sitting on the balcony of their palazzo. One source, however, lists them as courtesans - who probably weren't poor, either.

We see low necklines (both in front and back) and sleeves that are open on the outside from the shoulder to the wrist, the parts bound together with strings at regular intervals, leaving the chemise to show. the chemise also shows at the front and back of the armscye, so the sleeves were probably only tied to the bodice at the top of the shoulder.

Looking at the hem of the lady in the background, note how the skirt lies around the legs: There is no skirt support. The feet, hidden under the petticoat, look rather large as she is probably wearing chopines, the high-heeled, uniquely venetian shoes.

Compare to the Venetian Bride by Tiziano (probably 1530s) and the Venetian Lady by Veronese (1570s) which depict a completely different style.