Art historian claims denim jeans originated in Italy, not France

September 21st, 2010 - 2:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Sept 21 (ANI): The discovery of paintings by a forgotten 17th century painter has led to an art historian claiming that denim jeans originated in Italy nearly 400 years ago and not in France.

Jeans are believed to have originated either in Nimes in France, “de Nimes” gives us the word denim, or in Genoa, in north-western Italy, with the city’s name in French, Genes, eventually morphing into the English “jeans”.

The claim came about after three of the paintings by the unknown artist, believed to be from northern Italy, featured scenes from the 1650s of ordinary people wearing what appears to be an early denim fabric.

One of the paintings showed a peasant woman, who was wearing a skirt that appears to be made of denim, and in another, a teenage girl is shown wearing a torn blue skirt made out of rough fabric.

The third picture features a young boy wearing a torn jacket made from a dark blue cloth. The rips in the jacket, and in the peasant woman’s skirt, reveal that the fabric is indigo but threaded with white, just like modern jeans.

And art historians believe the newly discovered works were painted somewhere around Venice, suggesting that jeans have Italian, rather than French, ancestry.

“In people’s minds, jeans used to be all about Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, about the United States,” the Telegraph quoted Francois Girbaud, a designer who helped curate the exhibition, as saying.

“Nimes or Genoa? I don’t have the answer. But it’s amusing to think that jeans already existed in 1655,” Girbaud said.

To establish the exact origins of jeans is not an easy task as there are few recorded documents about their earliest manufacture and export.

“We have accounts from an English tailor saying that his fabric came from Genoa, and that is the origin of jeans,” the curator of the exhibition, Gerlinde Gruber, said.

“But this gives us new documentary proof of a historical reality that has been forgotten,” Gruber added.

The unknown artist, whose paintings went on show at the Galerie Canesso in Paris this week, has been dubbed the “Master of the Blue Jeans”.

A total of 10 paintings have been attributed to the unknown Italian artist and were gathered together after being discovered in collections in Italy and the United States. (ANI)

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