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.
Personification of the Church is Conservatively Dressed ca. 1415
The beast of the Apocalypse pursues a woman above whose head is
inscribed L'eglise. Symbolizing the Church, this woman is purposefully not
dressed in the period's luxurious houpeland. Instead, she wears only the
traditional cote hardy. With its tight sleeves (worn here without tippets)
and bodice but voluminous, trailing skirt, it is very much like the cotes
hardy worn by the women in the previous section. Her headgear, too,
is quite basic: double veils draped atop hair coiled over her ears.
commentary, in French
France, Paris, ca. 1415
Illuminated by the
eponymous Master of
the Berry Apocalypse
302 x 208 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; MS M.133, fols. 39v–40r
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.