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.
St. Adrian as a Fashion Plate (Part 1) ca. 1415–20
Adrian was a fourth-century pagan soldier before his conversion to
Christianity, for which he was promptly martyred. Even by the standards
of that era, his death was particularly brutal: his bones were crushed
and his hands and head severed. In heaven his body — and his clothes —
are resplendently restored. He wears a short embroidered pourpoint with
luxurious poke sleeves. From his shoulders flows a long blue-lined cloak
pinned at his throat with a gold morse. Chaussembles cover his lean legs
and pointed feet, and he is crowned with a towering bonnet bedecked
by a jeweled brooch with two feathers.
Book of Hours, in Latin
The Netherlands, Delft(?)
Illuminated by the Master
of the Morgan Infancy Cycle
158 x 108 mm
Purchased with the assistance of the Fellows, 1953; MS M.866, fols. 137v–138r
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.