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.
The Lover Encounters Danger and Reason ca. 1405
The Lover, protagonist of the Roman de la rose, is always fashionably
dressed. In these miniatures he encounters personifications of Danger
(an old man with a club) and Reason (a crowned woman). In both scenes
he wears the characteristic garment of this period, the houpeland. Both
the green and purple houpelands are calf length and feature large poke
sleeves. The floppy dagged sleeves of the pourpoint he wears beneath the
houpeland are visible at his wrists. In both miniatures the Lover wears
chaussembles and a blue chaperon with its cape and cornet tied up into
the shape of a fish.
Guillaume de Lorris
and Jean de Meun, Romance
of the Rose, in French
France, Paris(?) ca. 1405
285 x 210 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1900; MS M.245, fols. 22v–23r
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.