This exhibition explores the evolution of courtly clothing from the
"Fashion Revolution" around 1330
This exhibition is generously underwritten by a gift in memory of Melvin R. Seiden and
by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Major support is provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd., with additional assistance from
the van Buren family in memory of Dr. Anne H. van Buren, and from the Janine Luke and
Melvin R. Seiden Fund for Exhibitions and Publications.
Royals Dressed for Edifying Leisure ca. 1405–10
This is one of the earliest copies of the encyclopedia that van Delf wrote
during the early fifteenth century. The miniature opens the chapter on
games deemed suitable for royals; chess was considered an appropriate
entertainment. A king and his queen play chess (although not with pieces,
which the artist seems to have forgotten). He wears a luxurious fur-lined
houpeland with a high neck and large bombard sleeves. His more humbly
attired wife wears a simple cote hardy. A woman in a similar pink cote
hardy plus two men and another woman in voluminous houpelands
occupy the foreground.
Dirc van Delf, Table of
Christian Faith, in Dutch
The Netherlands, Utrecht(?)
Illuminated by the Masters of
Dirc van Delft
217 x 152 mm
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924; MS M.691, fols. 131v&8211;132r
In 1392 King Charles VI suffered the first of forty-four bouts of madness that would cripple his reign. During a lull in the Hundred Years' War, strife between France and Burgundy erupted into civil war. This domestic crisis was sparked by the 1407 assassination of Charles's brother by Duke John of Burgundy. In 1419 the duke, in turn, was murdered by supporters of the crown. During these tumultuous times, fashion reached unbelievable heights of luxury.
Men's and women's fashions were dominated by a new garment, the houpeland. Men's houpelands featured enormous sleeves and a skirt ranging from full length to crotch level. The pourpoint remained popular, albeit often finely embroidered and equipped with large sleeves. Accessories included fancy baldricks (sashes) and belts—both sometimes hung with bells. Tall bonnets or chaperons, often tied into imaginative shapes, completed the look.
Women's houpelands were always full length, with bombard or straight sleeves. The simpler cote hardy, with its voluminous skirt and tight upper body, continued to be worn. Women began to wear their hair in temples, a double-horned coif surmounted by veils or a tubular burlet.