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Venice 2014

The Specifics of Masks and Dress

Venetian Masks

Longhi, Pietro. Venetian Masks. ca. 1730-1785.

Looking at the paintings by Longhi, one would notice that there is a similarity in the style of dress worn by the noblemen and women. The standard dress for the nobility when traveling about the city was the tabàro and baùta as is evidenced in Longhi’s work Venetian Masks. The tabàro was a black cloak that noblemen wore over their coats and breeches along with a close-fitting hood that encircled the face and hid the neck. To cover the face, a baùta was worn. The baùta was a white mask of waxed carton that extended to just below the nose, and its beak-like chin allowed for the wearer to talk, eat, and drink without having to remove it, thereby preserving the wearer's anonymity. The mask was wedged against the forehead and then secured by a three-cornered hat. Women could also wear the tabàro and baùta over flowing skirts. When they went hatless, they wore an oval morèta, a black mask made of velvet or lace. This they held in place by clenching a small button between their teeth, which made speaking impossible.[20] The combination of these garments allowed the nobility to move about the city freely and more importantly informed upon Longhi and his style.

[20] James H. Johnson, Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001),8-9.

The Specifics of Masks and Dress