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.
Jilted Suitor in a Murderous Rage ca. 1420–25
Sir William Porter, part of the English occupying force in France in the
1420s, commissioned this manuscript while in Rouen — hence the inclusion
of a prayer to Winifred, a seventh-century Welsh saint venerated in England.
When Winifred refused the chieftain Caradoc's proposal of marriage, the
enraged young man pursued and decapitated the maiden. (Her miraculous
restoration appears in the background.) Caradoc wears a new garment
that evolved from the houpeland: a robe (gown). Short, unwaisted, but
belted at the hips, the gown presents an unflatteringly bulbous silhouette.
Also bulbous are his sleeves, large "bag hat," and gipser (purse).
Hours of William Porter,
France, Rouen, ca. 1420–25
Illuminated by the
269 x 188 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1902; MS M.105, fols. 72v–73r
Following the assassination of his father in 1419, the new duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, sided with England in one of the direst chapters of the Hundred Years' War. By 1422 northern France and Aquitaine were under English or Burgundian control. Paris was an occupied city. Only in 1429 did the tide begin to turn in France's favor, when Joan of Arc delivered Orléans and Charles VII was crowned king in Rheims Cathedral. Fashion retrenched.
While men and women continued to wear the houpeland, simpler garments for both sexes emerged. Men wore what was called a gown: a short, unwaisted garment unflatteringly belted at the hips. The resulting silhouette was top-heavy and bulbous. Sleeves were baggy, and the "bag hat" got droopier.
Women, while not dressed in the houpeland, might wear their new garment, also called a gown. Structured like the traditional cote hardy with a large skirt, the gown had an open or V neck and columnar or puffed sleeves. Headgear, however, did evolve: temples grew wider, and the veils and burlet worn atop them got taller.