The gratuitous girl in white gloves shot (ctd.)

November 22 2013

Image of The gratuitous girl in white gloves shot (ctd.)

Picture: The Times

It's the unwritten rule of saleroom and museum photo-calls: when the photographers arrive, you have to have a young, female, and preferably good-looking member of staff on hand to pretend to 'hang' a painting, or look at an object. And that person always has to wear white gloves (despite the fact that nobody really uses them anymore).

Above is a great example of the genre in today's Times, where a member of staff at the Royal Collection 'observes' a screen of works by Thomas Rowlandson.

The Rowlandson exhibition is now on at the Queen's Gallery in Holyroodhouse. More details here

Update - a reader writes, and asks:

Yes, but isn't this at least a funny riff on the hackneyed motif? and one that, as a caricature itself of the good-looking-girl-pretending-to-hang-a-painting, refers cleverly to subject of the exhibition, the Rowlandson cartoon caricatures?  The "gratuitous girl"'s magnified teeth even resemble one of the ways Rowlandson caricatured his targets.... So this particular photo isn't really "gratuitous" at all, is it?

BTW, a question from ignorance: if white gloves aren't worn any more, why not? is something else worn, or don't paintings need the supposed protection?

The problem with white gloves is that they make it harder to handle things, because you can't grip, and your fingers become clumsy. You're more likely to drop a painting, or rip a piece of paper (try reading a book in gloves). The best thing is to just wash your hands. Sometimes, latex gloves are used.

The only time archivists ever use white gloves is when they're being filmed - otherwise they get a deluge of people writing in, saying 'why don't you use white gloves?' 

Update II - a reader notes:

most print rooms do insist on white gloves when handling mounted drawings, because it avoids sweaty hands staining the mounts at no risk to the drawing itself. Counterintuitively - but sensibly - gloves are not used when handling unmounted material.

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