I remember well eulogising the excellent quality of Shakespeare’s pants.
Not one English statue of Shakespeare has the magnificence of the pants- by which, Britishers, I mean trousers – on Shakespeare in Central Park. Unparalleled pantaloons, they celebrated three hundred years of performing the Bard’s plays on stages worldwide. They were created by a man of considerable fashion-acumen, and they are magnificent. You can find pictures here.
In a brief survey of how artists have dressed Shakespeare, it was ascertained that no-one in Shakespeare’s homeland seemed capable of producing a decent pair of pants for its literary hero.
But I have found some decent Tudor pants on someone else.
You will immediately conclude that I have been cruising Elizabethan statues with eyes only for the pants; and you would be right. I have a quiet life. It passes the time.
So: the lucky pant-bearer is Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Tudor explorer of the new world (who, I notice, has regained his head) stands proudly outside Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College. He and his pants used to stand outside the Ministry of Defence at Whitehall; but perhaps they wanted to give him a better view of the Thames. His pants are more understated and better ironed than Shakespeare’s New York creations:
In fact, in comparison to Raleigh’s, these look like something British Airways would put in a vanity bag for first class passengers just in case they had mislaid their spare pair after washing up.
The last word in today’s pants survey must, however, go to another Elizabethan, whose circumnavigation of the globe has marked him out as another of the great explorers. But alas, going round the world in a small crate can take a terrible toll on one’s pants.
I bet Frances Drake’s granny made those for him. And gave them to him for Christmas one year, and he knew he had to wear them sometime. Oh, go on then, he said, I’ll wear them today, unaware that some artist would capture the image and share it in the seventeenth century version of YouTube, a portrait; and it was only a matter of time before the couture gaff found its way into the sculptor’s studio.
I feel sure that my experience of Elizabethan pant sculpture is limited indeed. And I am equally certain that you will have come across pants of greater stature, even, than these.