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.

Museum Photos: 1350 reliquary bust (Museum Schnütgen)

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

Clothing construction details in paintings: 1464-66 Master of the Lyversberg Passion, Cologne

MeisterLyuversberg_Passionsaltar_wrm_0143-0150_01Master 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 image to the left is from the Rheinisches Bildarchiv.

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.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 01

Detail of spiral-laced calf opening to fit clothes skintight, and seam line at back of leg.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 03 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 04 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 05

Construction details of seam placement in doublet A, and buttoned side closure in B.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 06  1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 07

Pin fastening on woman’s head veil.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 09  1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 08

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.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 10 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 11 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 12

m103700_32694-2_p m103700_32694-3_p 

Photos of pourpoint from Joconde: Portail des collections des musées de France.

Doublet D appears to be velvet, cut and laid in two directions.

1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 13 1464-66 Lyversberg Passion 14

Fieldtrip to Cologne: Wallraf-Richartz and Schnütgen Museums

In my quest to study relevant artefacts, I visited Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday 18th August, focusing on the Wallraf-Richartz museum (housing several Barthel Bruyn paintings) and the Museum Schnütgen (medieval liturgical vestments).
gudulaI must say, I was rather disappointed by the world-famous Wallraf-Richartz museum. Granted, I only visited their first floor and the “Medieval & renaissance” section, since none of the early modern – modern objects are of research interest to me, but being used to UK museums and their warm welcoming feel, as well as the helpfulness that I encountered in the Landesmuseum Zürich in Switzerland, the less than welcoming attitude (except for the bookshop staff!) at the museum reception and information put me off straight away. Perhaps the museum is too well-known for bothering? But then so is the V&A in London and I have always encountered smiles there.

Anyway, besides my personal unhappiness that shouldn’t have had an impact on the usefulness of the museum, I was struck by the rather useless information panels. It is all very well to add a panel with some fanciful text on an “unsuccessful execution” but there are people like me who would like to know the pertinent data of the object. The latter was scarce and hidden small on the bottom. What annoyed me the most was the information panel in room 9, the display of the Ursula legend panels. I wouldn’t even call it an information panel, because despite its enormous size there was no date, no provenance, no anything. I had to go online and onto their website to find the date of the objects. Sorry, but that’s just not good enough. A museum should not only be entertainment and enlightenment for the general population, but should also give enough information for those who want more. I spent 3 hours in there, photographing what I needed to and don’t think I’ll be necessarily back.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, but I think disappointment does that to a person. I had such high hopes. Nevertheless, I must not forget that they have a truly stunning array of objects in their medieval section, with Stephan Lochner probably being the most famous artist, and their collection of 14th – early 16th century altar paintings is amazing.

I can highly recommend their museum shop, I managed to find a pile (don’t ask me how much I spent…) of fantastic books on my subjects, which I would have never been made aware of otherwise. I came back with kilos of them and just about made the baggage allowance for both suitcase and carry-on.

So, don’t mid my personal gripe too much, but I do find a welcoming and helpful attitude in public arenas very important – especially when it comes to culture and history.
palm procession christThe Museum Schnütgen was in many ways the opposite experience for me. I had not expected too much, which was probably my own fault for never having heard of it. What a mistake! The museum has stunning liturgical vestments and an amazing textiles collection (only some are on display, obviously). As they describe themselves: “The Museum Schnütgen has a valuable collection of medieval art on exhibit in one of Cologne’s oldest churches.(..) A distinctive feature of the museum is its largest exhibition space, which dates back over 1,000 years.”

I have to say, though, that the information panels are also quite poor in the textiles section, but the museum makes up for it by offering a free guide in brochure form, which offered more information and all that I had hoped for.

I enjoyed my stay so much, and was so surprised at the excellent objects that are relevant for my research, I will definitely return. I also find it wonderful to be able to look at artefacts from all angles, and this way of exhibiting reminded me of the Landesmuseum Zürich and their medieval section. The museum shop was small, but quite well stocked and I found an excellent book, the catalogue of their textile collection, which had been published with the help of the Abegg Stiftung, Switzerland – and there we have the explicit link.

Sadly I ran out of battery power for my camera too soon (must buy a second one to swap), and had to head back to the Hauptbahnhof before they closed.

I will be sharing fruits of my photographic labour from both museums on this blog.