When researching medieval textiles, one often comes across ecclesiastical items. These were, after all, more likely to survive. I hope the images are useful.
Doublet and hose belonging to the Saxon Electoral Regalia.
c.1584-90, outer fabric Italian, tailoring Dresden, Electoral tailor’s workshop. Warp-faced satin, warp crimson silk, weft light salmon silk, pinking pattern with cut warp threads, the weft threads being left intact. Trim: crimson silk velvet (faded).
Dresden Residenzschloss Museum
Fellow historical dress, textile and needlework researchers that I admire:
- A stitch in time
Katrin Kania’s blog “Togs from bogs and other dirty laundry from medieval times!” One of the best books I have ever seen/read/obtained/pawed with abandon and found incredibly useful is Katrin’s book Kleidung im Mittelalter. Materialien – Konstruktion – Nähtechnik. Ein Handbuch. German-language (thankfully I am bilingual) book about materials, sewing techniques, the development of tailoring techniques and a reconstruction of the tailoring techniques of the Middle Ages as well as a catalogue listing extant garments from 500 to 1500. With illustrations and an English summary.
- Medieval Silkwork
Excellent and well-researched practice-based blog by Isis Sturtewagen, a researcher at the Centre for Urban History at the University of Antwerp. She is completing a PhD on dress and fashion in the Low Countries during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which I can’t wait to read.
Very interesting Finnish blog (part of it in English) by a lady who researches and recreates medieval dress and textiles. Don’t be fooled by her claiming not to be a “professional historian”, her rigorous approach to research & recreation is highly recommendable.
Stunning blog by Swedish classically trained tailor Cathrin Åhlén. She offers very well researched tutorials on a number of period clothing (focused on 14th and 16th centuries) with detailed photos. Cathrin’s sewing skills are awe-inspiring and her background of being a tailor, combined with her creative & researched approach to recreating historical dress is truly noteworthy.
Master of the Lyversberg Passion (active in Cologne, c. 1450 – c. 1490): Two wings of a Passion Altar (Lyversberg Passion), c. 1464–1466. Oak, 92 x 67 cm (each scene). Acquired in 1864 with funds from the Richartz-Fonds. WRM 0143 – 0150.
The altar panels are in the Wallraf-Richartz museum, Cologne, Germany. Further information: http://www.wallraf.museum/en/collections/middle-ages/floorplan/gallery-7/
The photos below in this post are from the bottom left panel of the left wing of the Lyversberg Passion altar, taken by myself on 18th August 2015. The figures below are secular ones in a religious altar piece.
Detail of spiral-laced calf opening to fit clothes skintight, and seam line at back of leg.
Construction details of seam placement in doublet A, and buttoned side closure in B.
Pin fastening on woman’s head veil.
Construction detail of man’s doublet C. Triangulate this secondary visual source with the primary source of the 14th century pourpoint of Charles de Blois, and the similarity of sleeve/shoulder seam placements becomes evident despite the fact the pourpoint dates from the 4th quarter of the 14th century, thus 100 years prior.
Photos of pourpoint from Joconde: Portail des collections des musées de France.
Doublet D appears to be velvet, cut and laid in two directions.
My research aims to reconstruct historic Dress at a specific time-location-point, to create an artefact that no longer exists (the recreated artefact/object). To summarise the approach I am taking: the process of reconstruction of this artefact will be object-driven (see Material Culture), and the reconstructed object – the experience of it / discourse with it – will be explored in an object-centred approach. The reconstruction of the object i.e. the re-creation of the historic Dress will be a means to conduct the research, not a research outcome in itself.
I am in the early stages of research into the recreation of Object A, which is not determined through publication or manuscript dates (more on this approach at a later date). It must, however, reflect the description in the Six Swans fairy tale. For an explanation of the role of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, see the page Research background: fairy tales.
The first edition from 1812 (Volume 1) of Die Kinder- und Hausmärchen – Handexemplar states on p.223:
Die sechs Schwäne
“…, weil es ihnen nun nicht antworten durfte, wollte es sie mit Geschenken befriedigen, und warf ihnen seine goldene Halskette herab. Sie riefen aber noch immer, da warf es seinen Gürtel, als auch dies nichts half seine Strumpfbänder endlich, alles, was es entbehren konnte, herunter, so daß es nichts mehr als sein Hemdlein anbehielt.”
The six Swans
… since she was not allowed to answer, she decided to appease them with gifts and threw down her golden necklace. But they still called out, thus she threw her belt, and as this did not help either, her garters. Finally, she had thrown down everything she could go without, so that she wore nothing but her shift.
(my own literal – not literary – translation)
I will leave this passage standing as it is for now, as an aid to reflect on the visual (art) sources from 4 distinctive German regions in the 1530s (leeway +/- 5 years):
- Lower Rhenish-Westphalia, Cologne, artist Barthel Bruyn the Elder
- Hesse, Frankfurt, artist Conrad Faber von Kreuznach
- Bavaria, Nuremberg & Munich, artist Barthel Beham
- Saxony, Dresden, artist Lucas Cranach the Elder
4 very distinctive styles – but do they realistically depict ‘fashion’ or a combination thereof with artist’s idiosyncratic style, artistic period convention, allegory demands, etc. This will be part of my research. As for now, I would like to share the comparisons with you, I personally find visuals of this type most helpful.