The "Look" of the Gods: Court Dress and Fashion in a Masquerade

Isabel María Alba Nieva

The Masquerade at Lodi, Lombardy on February 26, 1680 was a demonstration of jubilation to mark the marriage of the Spanish monarch, Charles II, to María Luisa de Orleans, during the visit of the Count of Melgar and his wife, Ana Catalina de la Cerda.

This engraving shows a view of the city of Lodi, with the procession in the foreground.

Filippo Biffi, Dissegno della mascherata fatta in Lodi, 1680. Courtesy of University of Glasgow Library, Archives & Special Collections, S.M. 1304.

The Site of the Mas­que­ra­de

The city of Lodi belonged to the Duchy of Milan. The Duchy was under Spanish rule from the early 16th century to the beginning of the 18th century. The Spanish aristocrats who governed the territories of the Spanish monarchy were accompanied by a retinue that was granted a level of ceremonial pomp appropriate to their status. Such ceremonies were adapted to the existing customs of each territory.

Georges Tasniere, Portrait of Juan Tomás Enríquez de Cabrera, 1682. Madrid, National Library of Spain

The Hosts: The Count of Melgar and his Wife

Juan Tomás Enriquez de Cabrera y Toledo (1646–1705), Count of Melgar and 7th Duke of Medina de Rioseco and his wife, Ana Catalina de la Cerda Aragón (1663–1698), daughter of the 7th Duke of Medinaceli, hosted the masquerade held in Lodi.

The count was appointed Governor of Milan in 1678. During his tenure, he made improvements to the administration and promoted economic reforms. He invested in fortifications and reorganized Lombardy’s state troops. The aid he sent to Genoa during the French attack of 1684 was highly praised. His Milanese period of office, from 1678 to 1686, provided him with growing prestige.

Find out more: http://dbe.rah.es/biografias/15659/juan-tomas-enriquez-de-cabrera-toledo-y-sandoval

Ten pairs of gods and goddesses made up the Masquerade, which was an allegory of marriage, symbolizing the union and fertility of this sacrament.

Each pair was led by the figure of a god on horseback, sumptuously adorned. Behind him, the goddess was mounted in a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by four lackeys characterized by their fancy dress.

Move your cursor over the gods and goddesses to find out more

The “Look” of Olympian Goddesses

The "Look" of Olympian Gods

Filippo Biffi, Dissegno della Mascherata fatta in Lodi il Carnevale dell’anno corrente 1680. Milan, Stampe dell'Agnelli, 1680

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Title: The “Look” of the Gods: Court Dress and Fashion in a Masquerade

Author: Isabel María Alba Nieva (Universidad de Málaga)

Web Design: Kunsthistorisches Museum – Visual Media, Vienna

English Translation:  Hilary Macartney (University of Glasgow) with Alberto Lanzat (Málaga, Official School of Languages) and Alexander McCargar (Yale University). Specialist advice: Lesley Miller (V&A Museum/ University of Glasgow)

Photographic Sources: University of Glasgow Library, Archives & Special Collections, Stirling Maxwell Collection, Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid), Archivo Histórico de Lodi (Lombardy), Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.