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.
Portrait of the Author: Gaston Phoebus ca. 1406
Gaston III, count of Foix (1331–91), was called
Phoebus because of his golden hair or handsome
features. He composed this treatise on hunting
and dedicated it to his fellow hunter, Duke Philip
the Bold of Burgundy. The manuscript opens with
an author portrait showing Gaston enthroned,
directing the hunters and dogs gathered around
him. He wears a voluminous fur-lined orange
houpeland with elaborate gold embroidery and
large bombard sleeves. The poke sleeve of his black
pourpoint is visible on his right arm. The narrow
cape of his chaperon is draped around his neck
and a tall bonnet sits atop his head.
Gaston III Phoebus, Livre de la chasse,
in French and Latin
France, Paris, ca. 1406
Illuminated possibly by the Josephus Master
and the Bedford Master
385 x 287 mm
Bequest of Clara S. Peck, 1983; MS M.1044, fol. 4r
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.