Costume and architecture

I chose the year 1616 as the fixed end date for the styles and decoration of the house, giving a spread from late Middle Ages to mid-Jacobean.  So we’re talking 1485-ish onward.  A wide spread.

This gives a nice spread of styles of architecture.  Medieval gothic to the stylised Renaissance gothic, as it were.

Been looking at a lot of paintings for both clothing and architecture.

I’ve a number of historical costume and history of vernacular architecture books.  Have you ever seen the books by
Janet Arnold
?  If you like detail and drooling over clothing patterns then this is the thing!  The clothes she describes and pictures are those surviving to this day.  There are photos and scale drawings, showing seams in detail and general methods of making.  Just to see the seams and the cut of the clothing is very instructive, even though most of that level of detail might be hard to incorporate in 1/12th scale.  Once you have had a look at the way they are cut, it makes it easier to get the shapes to for scaling down.

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

Image via Wikipedia

Now most of these are special occasion clothing (including those used for burial) so they mostly don’t represent everyday life.

Everyday clothing for most folk changed very little.  Waistlines moved, knee breeches took over from leg lagging and ballooned out and then became more tailored.

Daily clothing worn by servants and householders might be similar, but at least one fashion out as they may be wearing employers hand me downs.  For purpose made workers’ clothing the main differences would be in fabric used and age of clothing at time of wearing.

I think that footwear begins to look a little more solid for those that can afford it and pattens are in use throughout the period (and right into the C19th!) by all classes.

Everyone would probably have:
a hat or other head covering
a knife
a belt or chatelaine
a pocket/purse or satchel depending on their daily tasks

I’m going to play with the wide range to do a mix and match, both with the architecture and the fashions, I think.

Decoration and general décor


Printing of books is on the go mainly for the rich and the learned – but, if you could read and were wealthy enough, you might own a Book of Hours to aid your religious devotions, even if you did not belong to the ruling classes.

A merchant’s wife would probably be able to afford her own copy, though not as heavily decorated a copy as the very well to do.

A Protestant Book of Hours belonging to Elizabeth I is kept in Lambeth Palace Library and is just as ornate as it might have been pre-Reformation of the Church in England.  I reckon I’ll have a go at doing a simple version with computer print outs of fancy pages and bind them in a little leather, perhaps.

What are they trading in, at this Guild?

I’m thinking that the trading would be to what we now think of as the Middle East, and probably beyond.   This trading had been going for some years as had the spice trade to the Far East.  This is going to give the opportunity for lots of carpets and rich fabric here and there; spices and the possibilities of varied tableware too.  I might let in a bit of the Alhambra decoration just for the hell of it.

So which paintings do I find interesting in particular?

Flemish paintings of the 1400s, plenty of Holbein and Bruegel and some early Rubens, the miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard and one or two others.

The following paintings I picked out as interesting for dressing the set.

They each have bits I want to try to use as reference points in particular areas.




Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini – van Eyck – 1434
Was going to go with National Gallery page but found it depressing – preference for Wikipedia link as shows details
The room and decoration:
bed hangings
lighting of room
things on surfaces
A bedroom next to Solar and Chapel
The Merchant Georg Gisze – Holbein 1532

table and contents
walls and attachments
symbolism of all that is shown

Office area in entrance hall
The Ambassadors – Holbein 1533
Went with National Gallery as enjoyed seeing it there years ago – still say the website is depressing, though so also: Wikipedia entry
all contents of table/shelvesfabric of hangings at back – size of patternfamous carpet and the way it drapes overJean de Dinteville on left holding form of telescope
Somewhere in the Great Hall
Sir Thomas More and his Family.
Rowland Lockey, after Hans Holbein, the Younger. 1593
Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire.
, vases
clock and its position
carpet on surface, left
doorway and windows
items held
Solar and on upper floor

Mainly for costume

Thomas Cavendish (1560-92), Sir Francis Drake (1540?-96) and Sir John Hawkins (1532-95) Detail:
The Tailor – Giovanni Moroni Detail:
face and beard
Peasant Wedding – c1568 – Breugel (Brueghel?) the Elder Detail:

What’s been done so far?

On the whole there’s not a lot to see to date as most of it depends on actual set dressing but have prepared the wall areas of the office with bars for hanging documents, hook ended brackets to hang other things off and a couple of shelves.

office entrance to building area

Office at entrance to building – shelving and rack ideas from Georg Gisze

3 responses »

  1. Pingback: A kitchen for busy folk | theinfill

  2. Pingback: A new year – a new fireplace | theinfill

  3. Pingback: Waiting for things to set – Arnolfini Bedroom Mirror « theinfill

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.