Geneviève: The Period's Poster Girl

Romance of Tristan, in French

Illuminated by the Master of the Vienna Mamerot

France, Bourges(?)
1468
440 x 328 mm

Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1903

MS M.41, fols. 24v–25r
Item description: 

Geneviève, receiving King Mark's letter, exemplifies this period's look. Her turret, from which cascades a transparent veil, terminates upon a frontlet, a wide band of cloth that frames her face. (The frontlet would play an important role over the next decades.) Her wide, V-necked gown has a high, narrow waist and tight sleeves with funnel cuffs. Black, a popular color at this time, accents her turret and frontlet, collar, cuffs, and wide hem. The distinctive feature of men's clothing here is the revival of pouleines.

Exhibition section: 

Late Gothic Vertigo

In the 1460s and '70s fashions reached their Gothic climax. The look for both men and women was tall, long, and lean. Thin was in.

The look for men was dominated by the gown, worn either very short (to the crotch—or barely so) or very long (to the ground). Both versions, accented by a thin belt around a narrow waist, featured high padded shoulders and pleats that flared down over the buttocks and up over the back and chest. These features, developed during the previous decades, brought to a culmination the flatteringly masculine V-shaped silhouette. Pouleines, which accented the lean look, were revived. The chaperon, in fashion for over a hundred years, finally went out of style as new hats–especially a tall, loaf-shaped version—arrived.

Women's gowns continued with their wide V necks, high wasp waist, and long trains. For headgear, temples went out of fashion and were replaced by the turret. This cone-shaped coif, from the tip of which cascaded transparent veils, is perhaps the stereotypical ladies' hat from the late Middle Ages.