In this painting we see a lady seated in an interior, attaching a piece of fabric to a knight’s helmet. For a classic gift of love, a medieval lady could bestow a favour on a knight on the tournament circuit. Historically favours were given not just as a symbol of love but also as a display of friendship or allegiance. The history of tokens is traceable through both literature and artefacts and spans much of the medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe.
Easily tied on and fluttery, this handkerchief would make a good public declaration. It would have been likely that the piece of fabric was handmade by the lady herself and could possibly include her family colours or her own special symbol stitched into it to make it of greater importance. As with similar tokens throughout the centuries, it may even have held a signature sent from the lady’s favourite lotion, bathwater or perfume.