Museum photos: 1535-40 Passion shrine sculpture (Schnuetgen Museum, Cologne)

It is rare to find three-dimensional depictions of clothing, but with this wood-sculpted shrine from 1535-40 (Lower Rhine area) we have access to a variety of angles and views of dress of the period. Depicted is the Passion of Christ, with protagonists dressed in high fashion.

I am planning to return to the Museum Schnuetgen, which is truly a treasure trove for late medieval textiles, plus so much more, and when I do I will make sure my camera’s battery does not run out midway through. As it was, the photos were taken by my usual camera and also by my phone. Fortunately the quality of the latter was better than I had feared.

Enjoy the top, back, front, side, upwards and downwards views of sculpted dress-details.

Historical dress & textile researchers’ blogs to follow

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.
  • Neulakko
    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.
  • Katafalk
    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.

Museum photos: 1549 panel of Colonel Wilhelm Froelich (Landesmuseum Zuerich)

Goodness, where did the last two months and a bit go? In a work-mad blur of the new academic year! Anyway, here are some close-up photos of the Swiss Colonel Wilhelm Froelich, who ignored Zwingli’s Reisläufer ban and went to war for the French side. This meant that he lost his status as a Zürich citizen, but in 1556 he was ennobled by the French king.

Museum info:
Tafelgemälde. Herrenporträt Wilhelm Frölich. Ganzfiguriges Bildnis mit Wappen und Oberwappen der Familie Frölich. Maler Hans Asper. Öl auf Holz, Tempera;; Rahmen: Holz. Datiert 1549. Masse: Höhe 213 cm, Breite 111 cm. (LM-8622)

Museum Photos: 1660-80 pink stays (V&A museum)

1660-80 pink silk stays, Victoria & Albert museum. Photos taken in April 2003.

Place of origin: Holland (possibly, made)

Date: 1660-1680 (made)

Materials and Techniques: Watered silk, silk ribbon, linen, baleen, silk thread, hand sewn, hand embroidered

Museum number: T.14&A-1951

Nancy Spies’ excellent historical tablet weaving publications available on her website

I hate to use the word “cheap”, because nothing is cheap about Nancy’s invaluable work on historical tablet weaving and patterns, but have you tried purchasing a copy? As dear as gold-dust on the used book circuit since they are not otherwise available as hard copies.

Imagine my surprise and immense delight when I realised that Nancy sells her books on her website as PDFs to download. They are the exact same publications as the printed versions, and you won’t believe the prices, it is wonderful. You may even order a printout of the books. The wording below was taken from Nancy’s website.


This book details the history of the craft of brocaded tablet weaving from the sixth to the sixteenth century. It analyses data from the bands, including their metallic and fiber content. It presents examples of tablet weaving in literature and art and describes the types of patterns and where they were produced.

It lists the many uses for the
bands and gives an overview of historical looms and tablets. In addition, the author has graphed numerous historical brocading patterns.

The book concludes with a catalogue of brocaded tabletwoven bands and an annotated bibliography. The errata pages have been included at the end of the book.


A small, leather-covered book of handwritten patterns for gold brocaded tabletwoven bands resides in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuttel, Germany. Written in
1517 by Anna Neuper, a seventy-year-old nun in the St. Clare Convent in Nurnberg, it contains forty-five different patterns with variations and is among the earliest
pattern books for any textile technique.

These patterns have been transcribed into modern charts and are presented with background information by Nancy Spies with Ute Bargmann.


Authentic patterns from the Middle Ages — imaginary creatures, people, birds, lettering, architecture, overall designs, and borders.The patterns have been taken from sources dating from the sixth to the sixteenth century C.E., and every sources is documented.

Whether you are a needleworker, a knitter, a weaver, a beader, a mosaic maker, a quilter, or a textile historian, this book should be in your library. It is filled with over 400 patterns to inspire you.


This book is a second treasure trove of over 400 designs graphed from medieval sources.

You can use these patterns for any kind of needlework and handwork, such
as cross-stitch, knitting or crochet, for weaving or mosaic work, or even for stenciling a child’s room.

Museum Photos: 1350 reliquary bust (Museum Schnütgen)

Reliquary bust with Kruseler veil, around 1350. Cologne, walnut wood.

Freely available for download: Jutta Zander-Seidel’s book “Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nürnberg von 1500 – 1650”

zander textiler hausratThis is amazing news for everyone interested in historical 16th century German dress (and later). Jutta Zander-Seidel’s book Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nürnberg von 1500-1650, which was impossible to get hold of (believe me, I tried) was digitised by the Universitäts Bibliothek Heidelberg in June and uploaded to their ART-Dok server (Digital Repository Art History).

It is freely available for PDF download in two parts:

PDF, German (Teil 1 (bis Seite 251)) Download (93Mb) | Lizenz: Creative Commons LizenzvertragCreative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Deutschland

PDF, German (Teil 1 (ab Seite 252)) Download (70Mb) | Lizenz: Creative Commons LizenzvertragCreative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Deutschland

This is not the only publication to download. They have 21 by Jutta Zander-Seidel:

Take a look at their list in the ‘Decorative Arts‘ for example, or at the list of ‘Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum‘.

Recommendation: historical textiles researchers to follow on

I’d like to recommend two Austrian academics who I have been following on due to their great work on historical textiles, and who have also been able to make most of their papers available on

Beatrix Nutz, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Beatrix, of Lengberg castle ‘lingerie’ fame, publishes in German and in English. She focuses on the 15th century right now. Some of her recent papers are:

Karina Grömer, Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Karina also publishes in English and German, and is not only very prolific, but also hands-on when investigating techniques as an experimental archaeologist. She focuses on the early period. Some of her recent publications are:




Museum Photos: 1673 embroidered wedding suit (V&A)

Photos taken on 18th April 2003 in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Wedding suit:

  • Place of origin: England, Great Britain (made)
  • Date: 1673 (made)
  • Materials and Techniques: Wool, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread and lined with red silk