Monday 5 June 2017

MEDATS 2017 - report on Jenny Tiramani's paper

I attended an excellent one day conference by MEDATS on Saturday 3rd June. If you are interested in early modern don’t let the name MEDATS, Medieval Dress and Textile Society, put you off, they go through to the end of the sixteenth century. I intend to blog about a couple of the papers, though they were all of interest, even the ones that went back to St Cuthbert (not my period).
Art Institute Chicago - figures dressed for foot combat c1575-80

Jenny Tiramani’s paper was called “The cut and construction of 16th century tournament and procession clothing for horse and rider”. Please note that these comments are from my notes and may not accurately reflect what Jenny said. I do hope she has it published as it was fascinating.

The School of Historical Dress was asked by the Arts Institute Chicago to recreate some textiles for their new Deering Family Galleries of Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor; a good article on the new galleries is in the magazine Apollo. Jenny and her group did a lot of the research in the collection at Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck and in the Vienna Kunst Historisch Museum, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer. She split her talk into three sections, covering 1) Feather panaches 2) Bases and 3) Horse caparison

1) Feather panaches
Feather panaches are the huge mounds of plumes that appear on the top of helmets. The recreations can be seen above right in an image from the Art Institute, which was also used as the cover for the last issue of the MEDATS newsletter. Since listening to Jenny’s talk I have discovered a blog post on the AIC page on how they were made. Jenny said that these constructions contained not only feathers, but also spangles. They could also be worn by horses, as can be seen in the equestrian portrait of Francois I by Clouet (below left).
Francois I by Francois Clouet

2) Bases
Cloth bases were the skirts worn over armour. I think Jenny said there was a cutwork caparison of c.1550 with a matching rider’s coat with hanging sleeves at Vienna, sorry I could not write fast enough for details and Jenny had lots of fascinating close up photographs. This type of skirt can again be seen in the Clouet portrait to the left. 

3) Horse caparison
The School looked closely at an armoured caparison of c.1555-60 in Vienna and one in Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck. The Innsbruck caparison had small metal rods, rather than metal plates, and this was the style of construction they copied. They whipped the rods onto backing wool with double linen thread, then had velvet on the top. I think there was more to it than that, anyway, the velvet and wool were cut away the produce the cutwork design for the caparison.

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