Ten Tiny Toes

The Duchess of York is known to have had extremely small feet, even in relation to her small build - described in the "Ladies Monthly Magazine" as "rather below the common height and her figure was proportionately delicate and slight".

The delicacy of Frederica's tiny feet became the object of great curiosity and copies of her shoes were sold in their hundreds, though it seems improbable that many women could have actually worn them, despite the subsequent fashion for every stylish woman to squeeze her feet into ridiculously tiny shoes.

'Fashionable Contrasts' by James Gillray (1792) National Portrait GalleryJames Gillray, a popular 'humorist illustrator' at the time, produced a cartoon caricature entitled "Fashionable Contrasts" showing the duchess' feet dwarfed by the duke's. Undoubtedly the relative sizes of their feet are exaggerated and, given the obvious overtones of the couple's apparent activity, there was another meaning within the drawing relating to their having married towards the end of the previous year, it serves to illustrate the strange degree of interest that her feet commanded.

One pair of purple leather shoes studded with diamonds, finished with a high heel measured only... 5-1/2 inches (about 140mm) long from heel to toe - about shoe size 4 (UK), 20 (European), 4½ (US).

"Fashionable Contrasts" by James Gillray (1792) - National Portrait Gallery.