måndag 4 januari 2016

Patterned clothes in the 13th and early 14th centuries

Thanks to the popularity of illuminated codexes such as The Maciejowski Bible from c. 1250 och the Manesse Codex/Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift from the first three decades of the 14th century, most of us (who ever think about such things) see fashions of the 13th and early 14th century as made from plain fabric, without patterns.

Maciejowski Bible

Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift

It is true that this is the time period which saw the birth of the medieval woollen cloth industry, and that the finest woollens were plain coloured. But there were patterns too, and if we start looking around in texts, in illumianted manuscripts and at preserved textiles we get a different image of the fashions of the high middle ages.
   Firstly, striped wool fabrics are mentioned frequently in written sources from the Low Countries, usually cheaper and half woollens/half worsteds or just worsteds. Stripes are a popular way to create an easy pattern in an illustration, but also appears to have been fashionable, since we find them not only in simple illustrations, but also in illuminations where lots of work is put in.
   By the way, for anyone who has read, or read about, the French art historian Michel Pastoreau's book The Devil's Cloth A History of Stripes and Striped Fabric, I should add here that I am not convinced of his arguing that striped fabric was reserved for the devil and wrongdoers in the Middle Ages - in fact, even in his own book he has to define all kinds of patterns, such as checks, and shaggy furs, as stripes to get enough good examples. Even then the theory doesn't hold up for the Middle Ages if you take into account more images and more types of them, written sources, and preserved textiles - I don't see se the Virgin Mary, or Jesus as emissaries of the Devil for example.

c. 1270-1280 
St. John's College, Oxford

Early 14th century

These images probably show silk fabrics, and patterned silks such as damasks, samite and brocades are also found in documentary as well as literary sources from the period.

Judging from manuscripts patterns could be of many different kinds, but roundels, stylized flowers, roundels and stripes/borders appear to be the most common. other patterns were also often organized in stripes, such as on this beatiful early 14th century image from the Lisle Hours.

Pierpont Morgan Library, Lisle hours MS G.50 fol. 6v 1316-31

Or on this late 13th century Spanish fragment of a tunic, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Spaniards were extremely fond of stripes in the 13th and 14th centuries, anad also had their own fashions, rather different from the rest of Western Europe, but as seen on the king above, patterned stripes were found in other parts of Europe too.

Here are some more examples of woven in patterns from 13th and early 14th century Europe.

Fragment of Bishop Nils Allesson's vestments, Italian 1295

Polka dots! And velvet. Late 13th century

From the book Merchants, princes and painters. Silk fabrics in Italian and Northers paintings 1300-1550, by Lisa Monnas. My friend Janne Helene has written a blog post about it and what sounds like a lovely book on textiles in art and reality here.

And, finally, an Italian 13th century brocade with fleur de lys and stripes. Again from the Metropolitan museum of Art.

Patterns were not only woven in, but also embroidered on plain fabric (I have myself thousands of coral beads saved for this, since over a decade, so don't hold your breath). It is therefore unclear if patterns such as these were meant to show woven or embroidered patterns.

End of the 13th century France Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale 
et Universitaire U 964 - Biblia Porta fol. 240r
Via Illumanu

Edward the Confessor, from "Life of Edward the Confessor" 13th century
It's his tunic I'm referring to, the cloak is lined with vair (squirrel).

c. 1270-1280 
St. John's College, Oxford

German Altarpiece, c 1250. In British Museum, photo by Flickr-user Kotomi

End of the 13th century France Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale 
et Universitaire U 964 - Biblia Porta fol. 178r
Via Illumanu

There's more, much more, so you can count on me getting back to this subject :)

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar