Monday, June 15, 2015

"Paper patterns of Saints"

In my last post I sort of promised you to tell a bit more about my PhD, so I decided to share a little fragment of text here which I thought might interest you. The main source I'm using are probate inventories from Bruges, dating to the 15th and 16th centuries. From these sources I'll take every bit of information relating to dress (the clothes, the textiles they're made of, and tools related to making, washing and repairing clothes). The fragment I'm sharing with you today is about sewing and embroidery tools in the house of Adriaene van Hercke:

"Shortly after the death of Seigneur Gregoris Lommelyns on the 24th of August 1569, an anonymous clerck of the town of Bruges made an assessment of his possessions at the request of the deceased’s widow lady Adriaene Hercke.[1] In their large house in the Hoogstraat near the Molenbrug, several rooms contained objects related to the making of needlework and sewing. In the hallway or vloer (literally: floor) of Gregoris’ and Adriaene’s house, the clerk noticed two naeymandekens (sewing baskets).

Detail of a sewing basket, Gerard David, The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard (c. 1510-1515), Metropolitan Museum

In the next room, inside a garderobe or wardrobe, he found all sorts of embroidered household textiles, such as embroidered table cloths, embroidered curtains of green silk and three embroidered rabatten.[2] Among these there was also one unfinished piece of embroidery: a crown of thorns on a ground of satin fabric.

An embroidery frame, Meister der Aachener Marientafeln, Marienleben (c. 1485), Schatzkammer des Aachener Domes

In the same wardrobe there were embroidered as well as unembroidered silk huves or coifs and a number of reels of silk for knitting, or more likely, knotting huves or coifs (the Middle Dutch word used is breyen, which today means to knit). In the eetcamere or dining room there were four papieren pateroonen van senten (paper patterns of saints). Although little is known about the use of premade patterns in embroidery, this practice is confirmed by a dispute between the painters and the illuminators over the right to make drawn and painted designs on paper for the tapestry weavers and the embroiderers (and clearly also for wealthy women such as Adriaene, who embroidered as a pass-time or perhaps even as a source of supplementary income).[3]"

[1] Probate inventory of Gregoris Lommelyns (1569), Stadsarchief Brugge (Bruges Municipal Archives), Staten van Goed, 2nd series, 15059.
[2] Rabat = A narrow strip of fabric above a pleated curtain or a pleated strip along the top of a mantlepiece.
[3] Original quote: ‘Al tghuent dies met pincheelen of borstelen ghemaect ende ghewrocht wort up papier, tzy patronen dienende den ambochte vanden lechwerckers, borduerwerckers (…)’ Gilliodts-van Severen: 1905, 517.


And for those who are curious what my PhD will look like (hopefully) when finished:

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