The practice of wearing white gloves whilst conducting was common in the nineteenth century. The Musical times reported in July 1884 that:
“A German conductor,” we are told, “in order that the public may be more deeply impressed with the feeling of grief intended to be produced by the Funeral March in Beethoven’s ‘Eroica Symphony,’ wears black gloves while conducting this movement, after having worn white gloves during the preceding part of the symphony.”
Source: Scholes, Percy (1947) The Mirror of Music. London: Novello. vol.1, p.375.