Dress Reconstruction Visual Workshop: 1530s German Renaissance

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.

Comparison-tables with images behind the cut