“Tired of being the brunt of the scorn of profiteers and of thieves in yellow gloves
I was determined to leave Turin and my home country. The Franco-Prussian War
was over and it was said that the gates of Paris were open to all . . .”
The unification of Italy prompted the Savoy dynasty to transfer its royal seat—and the nation’s capital—from Turin to Florence in 1864 and then to Rome in 1871. For Turin this meant a tightening of the royal purse and a corresponding reduction in the number of publicly-funded construction or restoration projects. Opportunities for local decorative artists became fewer and more meanly competitive. This, coupled with the exploitation of his talents by better-known artists, impacted Juglaris’s future prospects in Turin. He came to believe that, notwithstanding ambition, dedication and hard work on his part, any greater success might prove elusive in his native city.
As someone born into relative wealth and privilege before financial reverses impoverished his family, Juglaris resented watching those whom he considered inferior prevailing where he could not. He had only scorn for the dandies and gentlemen of the art world who, in keeping with the fashion of the day, wore kid gloves dyed yellow or lavender. To his eye, they were thieves parading as gentleman, or gentlemen behaving like thieves. In the face so much that rankled, or that he considered humiliating, Juglaris resolved to seek a better fortune beyond Italy. Neighboring France, where a war with German Prussia had recently ended, beckoned him. His mind was made up: he would go to Paris.
A Man with Yellow Gloves. . .
As a young artist seeking to make his way in Turin, Tommaso Juglaris literally wore his poverty on his sleeve. He could barely afford the clothing necessary to keep up appearances, which was important in soliciting work from wealthy patrons or fellow artists who could be easily, even cruelly, dismissive. When one of Juglaris’s friends introduced him to a designer who might have been able to use his services, the man took one look at him and contemptuously said to the friend: “Why do you concern yourself with the poor? For them there is the poorhouse.” Juglaris was roughly pushed out of the room.
In his memoir Juglaris recounts his gratitude for gifts of clothing received. The friend who tried to help him find work presented him with a hat which, with a “bit of paper” stuffed inside, “fit me well enough.” It was certainly an improvement over the straw hat he had been forced to wear all winter. Two aunts, noticing his miserable attire, bought him a full suit. However, after Juglaris was admitted to the Artists’ Circle of Turin, he found it necessary to purchase a more elegant and formal black suit, plus top hat and gloves. Although he could ill-afford any of these purchases, attendance at the glittering social functions hosted at the Palazzo Ganeri was impossible without them.
With a wardrobe that was still limited Juglaris could hardly compete with better dressed and accessorized fellow artists. Perhaps due to his own defensiveness and hurt pride, Juglaris was almost contemptuous of these artists who sported dyed gloves around town, disparaging them as effete “dandies” and incorrigible “thieves.” In fact, their yellow or lavender gloves were following gentlemanly custom dating back centuries in Italy. Yellow gloves are conspicuously displayed in the 16th century Portrait of a Gentleman by Renaissance master painter Marco Basaiti. As art historian Simeran Maxwell notes commenting on Basaiti’s portrait: “His pair of yellow gloves, probably kid, indicate a man who does no manual work, distinguishing his position in society…” While Juglaris never regarded the work of an artist as manual labor, he had no desire to become a dandy. In leaving Turin for Paris, he was prepared to work hard to accomplish his goals and fulfill his artistic vocation.