Friday, January 27, 2012

This Day In History- The Birth of W.A. Mozart

My husband and I attended a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra last night, which amongst other pieces played Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major. It was a wonderful piece and I've heard it before many times, but nothing compares to hearing music performed live by dedicated professionals. In the program I was informed that Mozart's birthday was, in fact, today, January 27th of 1756. Happy birthday, Mozart!

If you're interested in hearing the piece we experienced last night you can listen to it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLtCPLIMYtc

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Italian Renaissance Hairstyles

In keeping with my last post on Italian Renaissance costume I thought we would take a look at something we didn't touch much on; hairstyles. They were extremely varying; up and down, braided, netted, entwined with silks and ribbons, even pearls, and, of course, dyed, bleached, and curled. The only thing in somewhat short supply seems to be hats, and really who would want to cover up what you had spent so much time constructing?

"Do you have any idea how long it took me to get the curls placed?!"

1544 Portrait of Laura da Pola by Lotto
Occasionally a small cap, or scuffia, was worn either with side curls, or with most of the hair stuffed up underneathe:-
1490 portrait by Ghirlandaio












1502 Betrothal
1510 Portrait by Araldi
Another notable hair decoration was the reta, or hairnet. Some of these were beaded, some woven in decorative patterns, and some left very simple.
1505-1508 Siena

1545 Lavinia
Under and around these ornamentations, or even without them, hair was often braided or crimped.
There was the simple modesty of a veil, if you felt the need to cover up...
Or, if blending into the background wasn't your thing, there were big turbans, or simply huge ones. 
Marie de Bourginione

Licinio 1520

1466 Batista Sforza
And, of course, there were things that defy description.

For more information on hairstyles of the Italian Renaissance I reccomend visiting A Crowning Glory.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Italian Costume c.1500

1505 Donors in Adoration
I've been watching a lot of the show Borgia, and frankly loving it. The costumes are superbly done, both because quite a lot of research clearly went into them, and also because they express the characters very well. Extra points for the realism of people having a set wardrobe and not new outfits every scene. Remember, clothing took longer to manufacture than it does now, both because nothing was mechanized and because of the amounts of fabric and level of time-consuming detail-work required.

It's easy to forget when talking about costume history that unlike England or France or Spain during this period, Italy was far from a unified country, and wouldn't be for a long time. One of the ways in which the divisions were expressed was in the variation in costume between the Italian states, and by contrast their intricately intertwined trade and politics and familial alliances expressed themselves by a relative similarity as well. Let's have some examples, shall we?

1500 Miracle of the Cross by Bellini
1502-07 by Carpaccio
These first two portraits are of Venitian women. You can see the voluminous camicia/chemise pulled through the openings in the sleeves, both of which tie onto the undergown (gamurra). The gamurra was typically laced tightly at the bodice either under the arms, or in front, with a full skirt pleated to the waist. In both images the sleeves match the gamurra, but they didn't have to. Over both gowns is an overgown called a cioppa which was much less fitted and cut to show off the gamurra in the front. It could be either sleeveless or have hanging sleeves. In the picture to the right you can just see the woman kneeling at the bottom right-hand corner. She wears the final item called a mantello, which was basically just a long piece of fabric draped around the figure in whatever artistic way you deem appropriate.

1500-05 Lady with a Lapdog by Costa
1488 by Costa
Now let's jump to Ferrara circa 1500. The lovely lady to the left is wearing an outfit very similar to the venitians, with the camicia, gamurra, and tie-on sleeves, which in this version are striped and contrast with the gown itself. The notable difference is in the wide cuffs of the sleeves. Other earlier examples feature a short oversleeve attached to the gamurra, which seems to be particular to Ferrara as does a fondness for striping on the sleeves.
1505 Lady with a Unicorn by Sanzi
In Florence the cioppa was pretty well abandoned by 1500, and the tie-on sleeves were one solid unit without slits or sections. The gamurra sits far out on the shoulders, or even off the shoulders. Most of them feature a wide band of solid-colored fabric at the neckline, often repeated at the bodice straps and sometimes at the bottom of the skirts. This style was also popular in Rome.

1505-10 Portrait of a Lady by Carota
In Verona the wider sleeves of the gamurra are open at the bottom, but feature the slashing seen in the Venitian portraits.

1507 La Muta by Rafaello
This portrait from Urbino in Rome shows just how similar the fashions were between Florence and Rome, except for the addition of the very matronly apron.

I'm feeling a project coming on. First though I need to finish the gray Elizabethan outfit.