Monday, July 25, 2011

Wrap front gowns?

I've been battling a nasty summer cold (no fun in a heat wave in Virginia) and haven't been overly productive since I got back from my trip to California.  I have been reading though.  While out at my parents house I found 4(!!) boxes of books from my undergrad days, mostly on Medieval and early modern history.  I picked out enough to fill two large flat rate boxes and shipped them home so they would be waiting for me when I got back.

One of the books I shipped is on the history of private life in the middle ages.  It's quite interesting, if you are into academic reading and social history (which I am).  But what got me really excited was the picture on the cover.  I can't find a citation for the cover image anywhere for some reason.  What you see here is a small version of the cover.  Amazon has a larger, though lower quality scan of the cover here Any ideas where this image comes from?  What's interesting to me is the two ladies in the back who appear to be wearing wrap front gowns.  The image to the right, a 15th century miniature by Jean Bourdichon seems to show a artisan's wife in a similar style dress (of course her arm is covering the bit of her gown that I really want to see, but she's also holding a distaff I'm ok with that).

We also have this image by my old friend Gerard David, which shows Mary Magdelan (in the cloak) wearing what might be a wrap front gown:
Unfortunately the clearest image I've found so far of this type of dress is the book cover I can't find any attribution for, but I'm intrigued.  The ladies in the book cover look like attendants, the artisans wife is clearly at work, so perhaps this is some kind of working overgown?     If I can find some more information about this style of dress, it would be a fun project.  I don't think I've seen anyone wearing a wrapped gown like this.


  1. Yay I found the cite! It turns out it was on the back cover scanned into Amazon, though not on the back cover of my copy of the book (go figure). Anyway, the image cite is Ms 493 f.74v Aeneas and Dido, from the works of Virgil (70-19 BC) 1469. It's out of a copy of The Aenead housed in the Bibliotheque Municipale, Dijon, France.

  2. Hi! I love your blog--always great to see more people doing historical sewing beyond the last century. I tagged you for a blog award here: Nice to properly meet you!