Cranach Gowns: A Paper Doll of German Rennisance Dress (Plus Resources)

Link to Cranach Gowns, a paper doll of a 15th century Saxony dress in Germany with two gowns, two hats, one pair of shoes in black and white or in full color for printingHappy Friday! Here’s a printable paper doll. ūüôā

I first stumbled across Cranach dress or gowns in this rather gruesome painting of Judith with the Head of Holofernes months ago and her gown was fascinating. I didn’t know much about it, except that it was painted by Lucas Cranach.¬†As it turned out, I discovered as I did more research, that the artist- Lucas Cranach the Elder- painted countless versions of this gown on countless both real and mythological figures. ¬†Coming out of the Saxony area of Germany, Lucas Cranach was hired by Fredrick the Wise who to be the court painter of his court in 1505 and Cranach stayed there for the rest of his life. He was extremely prolific and his art is distinctly romantic and stylized. Even his portraits all rather do look the same after a while, I have to confess.

Around 1546, Cranach illustrated a manuscript for the Court at Saxony. This collection of portraits of Saxon princes and family known as Das Sächsische Stammbuch РMscr.Dresd.R.3 is fascinating. I was immediately struck by the illustrations of the Saxon princesses (image 220, f. 89) and I knew I wanted to draw these dresses.

Cranach Gowns, a paper doll of a 15th century Saxony dress in Germany with two gowns, two hats, one pair of shoes in black and white for printing. Free from paperthinpersonas.com {Download a PDF of this paper doll to Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll to Color}{More Paper Dolls in the Bodacious & Buxom Series}
However, there is a debate as to whether or not Cranach’s gowns actually existed in the real world. Here’s my view: We don’t have an extant one, but then we don’t have very many extant garments from this era anyway. Should we find one the debate would be settled, but until then we have to work with the primary sources we have. ¬†The value of fabric and the expense of clothing was so great the people usually chose to be painted to garments they actually owned.

Plus, I tend to approach history with the belief that in the absence of proof to the contrary, we should assume that people of the era were not trying to mislead people of the future. Why commission a family history with crests and portraits of your family, if you are not going to accurately render the people in the images? Das Sächsische Stammbuch РMscr.Dresd.R.3 is a collection of portraits of Saxon nobles. Why put the princesses in imaginary gowns?

The first question I struggled to answer was if the nets of pearls so often seen the women’s hair in these portraits were actually nets of pearls, or rather some sort of cap. This article on these caps lead me to conclude it was a cap, rather than part of the¬†hair. The paper doll’s¬†shoes are fairly standard 15th century shoes with squared toes. Her hats are based on portraits of the era.

I picked out colors based on the main colors I saw in the portraiture which were red and black. I really wanted to do blue as well, like the illustrations of the Saxon princesses and so I did a blue gown as well. I did wonder, however, about the blue. Color is often symbolic in manuscript illustration and I wondered if perhaps blue was used to denote virginity (the Madonna was associated with blue) rather than to render the actual color of the gowns. Never the less, I thought they looked pretty and that was enough for me. I made the paper doll a redhead, because I have a thing for redheads and so did, it seems, Cranach.

ranach Gowns, a paper doll of a 15th century Saxony dress in Germany with two gowns, two hats, one pair of shoes in color for printing {Download a PDF of this paper doll in Full Color} {View a 150 dpi PNG of this Paper Doll in Full Color} {More Paper Dolls in the Bodacious & Buxom Series}
In my research, I am indebted to The German Renaissance of Genoveva , a blog devoted to recreating German Renaissance dress for reenactment and The Court Gowns of Saxony and article by Holly Stockley which was accessed via the Wayback Machine and The German Renaissance of Genoveva website.

Normally, this is where I would put my sources. The truth is that I was flummoxed in finding any really good secondary academic works on German Renaissance dress in English. I did use the Met’s collection of Cranach paintings, the Encyclopedia Britannica’s article on Lucas Cranach, this delightful bookplate from the National Gallery¬†(USA),¬†the National Gallery (UK) portrait of a noble woman, and this portrait of Princess Maria of Saxony.

The most useful document was Das Sächsische Stammbuch РMscr.Dresd.R.3 and I owe a debt to the library that digitized it. It it through this digital work that people like me can see the great artifacts of Europe and study them. I am well aware of the risks and time such projects take, so I am grateful when libraries and museums undertake them.

As always, if you want to know when I update this blog, feel free to drop your email on the sidebar to be and be added to the updates mailing list. You can also follow me on twitter where you can see when the blog updates (though I usually tweet after I post by a few hours) and get to read about what I might be making for dinner.

And, of course, thoughts in the comments are always valued.

Curves: Renaissance

There are certain periods of history to which I am naturally attracted and then there are certain periods to which I couldn’t care less about. I find the Renaissance is not an era which I naturally am interested in, but there is a RenFaire (I’m not sure how to spell that, actually…) around here every year and though I haven’t yet gone to the Faire (apparently the added “e” is required) it got me thinking about Renaissance costume.

curves-renassaince-150

 

{Click Here for a PDF to Print} {Click Here for a PNG to Print} {Click Here For the Rest of the Series}

Now, I admit I don’t know much about Renaissance clothing, but it’s a very interesting time because the first costume books were published in the late Renaissance- the second half of the sixteenth century to be precise. The most famous of these books was by Vecellio who described not just the fashionable clothing of Venice (where he was from and where the book was printed), but also all over Europe and the world.The book was titled Degli habiti antichi et moderni di viverse parti del mondo or in English “The clothing, ancient and modern, of various parts of the world” and it has just recently come out in full translation by Thames and Hudson. Unfortunately, the copy my library has was checked out, so I had to make do with John Peacocks The Chronicle of Western Costume which, though I have heard many complaints about it and I do have a few of my own, is an excellent general source. Both of these dresses come from Venice in the late 1400’s. The hair is my own attempt at a simple head-dress and the SCA reference is a nod to the highly likely lack of actual historical accuracy.

Any organization which calls themselves the Society of Creative Anachronism does not take itself too seriously and neither do my paper dolls.