Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Covered legs: prudery or prudence?

It is often said that the Victorians covered the legs of pianos, tables and other furniture out of prudery: showing legs, be they female or wooden, was considered to be indecent. “This is a myth,” writes Ralph Gee in a letter to the Observer. “The truth is simple. Enormously expensive dining tables were vulnerable to irreparable damage from the fashionable spurs of cavalry officers. So the most grandiose furniture was sheathed and the practice spread to the bourgeois drawing rooms. Had the problem been naked legs, all chairs would have been covered to prevent impropriety – and that would have been really stupid.”

Legs – the great cover-up, The Observer Review, 22.8.2010, p. 2


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