20 November 2013

Transitional gown project progress

I got the black kirtle finished enough to wear last weekend, and I'm really happy with it. Of course, I completely forgot to get a picture of how it turned out. I had been hoping that one of our roving photographers caught me, but so far I've only managed to find myself in the background. So that's mostly done - hemmed and seams finished. The sleeves are still a bit funky, might rip them out and start over, and I remain undecided on whether to add a lining for the bodice. I've moved on to a chemise with a matching neckline, which should go relatively quickly.

In the meantime, here are some roughly contemporary portraits:
Portrait of a Lady with a Carnation, Master of the Legend of Saint Ursula
Portrait of a Donatrix, Lucas Cranach the Elder
Portrait of a Female Donor, Jan Provost
And of course Portrait of Margaret of Austria, Jean Hey (called Master of Moulins)


Cathy Raymond said...

You've seen this portrait too, right? A young Catherine of Aragon in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna:


Kass McGass of Reconstructing History did a Transitional Gown based on the Catherine of Aragon portrait and wrote about it at length. I've included the links to the first post (she has more than a dozen posts on the project) and the last (with the pictures of the finished product); if you are interested you can surf to the rest:


Catrijn vanden Westhende said...

I'd forgotten about that portrait, but yes, I'm familiar with it, and Kass's version. It's interesting to me because it's from the same time period, but stylistically it feels more full-on Tudor than transitional to me. Maybe it's the decorated neckline? Or the smooth front panel on the overgown without a visible opening?

Cathy Raymond said...

Perhaps it's because the sleeves of the gown Kass made are fuller--they already are taking on the shape of the sleeve. Or is it the reverse curve of the neckline?

It's impossible to see how full the sleeves on Catherine actual gown were, though, and I think one could argue from the date that Catherine's gown had to be a transitional. I asked my question because I thought that one could come up with a different interpretation of the Catherine portrait than Kass did, and I was wondering whether you'd considered doing so. Thanks for your response.

Catrijn vanden Westhende said...

It's a good point about the sleeves - the dress could feel very different based on how full they are.

I remember reading Kass's stuff when she originally posted it - I haven't looked at it closely lately, and I'd like to come to my own conclusions, whether they end up being the same or different. Browsing quickly, it looks like she had the most uncertainty with sleeve attachment, which makes sense to me - there's probably more than one style of sleeve cut going at this point in time, and you could go in very different directions depending on your exact inspiration.

The other thing that's interesting to me is that her two key inspiration portraits do seem to have an extra layer compared to what I think of as typical (4 including shift, rather than 3). If I were trying for that exact style, I might experiment with a partial layer such as a placket instead.

Catrijn vanden Westhende said...

Ooh, here's something interesting. The date and sitter for the Sittow portrait are actually debated - that it's Catherine of Aragon around 1502 is one theory, but the other is that it's Mary Rose Tudor in 1514.

Cathy Raymond said...

That's interesting. It does make a difference to the analysis if the Sittow portrait is more than a decade older. (For our purposes, it doesn't really matter who the subject of the portrait is.) 1514 would take us into early Tudor and away from the transitional period of fashion.

On the other hand, 1) people sometimes wear fashions in portraits that were no longer cutting edge as of the date the portrait was painted; 2) it is harder to date the Sittow portrait because the sleeve is not visible. I find it easy to imagine that the woman in the Sittow portrait had sleeves rather like the long, cuffed sleeves of some of the other examples of transitional gowns you cited, and unlike Kass's reconstruction.