So remember in my last post t\when I said that I had a plan?
That was a bit of a stretch. What I MEANT was that I had a really good idea of that time period and the general resources that would be used to formulate that plan- based on my current knowledge of Italian fashion.
I was not counting on the fact that everyone during the 1490s was so in love with Italian fashion in this region that Spain goes completely unnoticed (there was also that pesky war going on...). So, the main art reference I wanted to use, as seen here, was becoming a bit difficult to research. I had significant trouble finding a lot of Spanish art during the 1490s time period, nor was I finding a ton of recreations of this painting or other artwork from that period in Spain.
TONS of Italian Ren art, reconstruction, and research, but Spain... pssh.
At this point I'd like to say that if you are just here to see how I actually construct the garments, I recommend skipping this entire blog post. It's going to be all history and rambling. You have been warned.
Ok- so before I backtrack too far or one of you tells me that I'm an idiot because "what about Ferdinand and Isabella" or why didn't I look at such-and-such academic paper?
YES, of course Ferdinand and Isabella are a wonderful art resource, as well as giving me some great historical context BUT I WILL GET TO THAT. Also, I have looked at a good bit of the academic papers, that I could get my grubby torrent-ing (sorry!) hands on, but I am not rich enough ( or at all, but that's besides the point) to be shelling out for access to paid academic articles. Especially not for a "fun" challenge. *Though please feel free to shoot me a comment with anything you think is relevant that isn't going to charge me 20 buckaroos for access.*
But, if this painting is such a motherfucker, why didn't you just pick another piece of art that would be easier to recreate?
That's easy, ITS BECAUSE I ALREADY HAVE THE PRETTIEST FABRIC AND IT PERFECTLY MATCHES THIS PAINTING AND I COULD DO AN EXACT RECREATION AND IT WOULD PROBABLY BE PRETTY AWESOME.
I hope this answers all questions about my motivations and level of sanity. Thank you for your patience.
Picture of fabric samples and craft room mess so you know (hopefully) why I'm obsessed with using it.
<--- Yup that's about 8 yards of the most gorgeous 100% Oscar De La Renta Canary yellow silk taffeta, if I was less professional there would be heart emoji's here.
As well as a really pretty red and burnt umber(?)-esque silk brocade. I'm a little less sure of the fiber composition on this one. I know it's not synthetic, but on burn test I'm feeling that it's maybe a cotton silk blend...? It's drape-y and has a good weight to it though, so for the sbernia I think it'll work well.
I also came across a good quality faux fur* at an estate sale this weekend so that will be the sbernia lining, seen in the painting.
*I am not opposed to using real fur, but I find that it makes laundering the garment a total pain. So until I have the time to make a removable real fur lining this'll do.
So the painting itself is a quasi-mystery.
The painting is called, at least from what I can find online: Dona Mencia de Mendoza with Saint Dominic. Except there is a lot of back-and-forth on whether this is actually Dona Mencia at all. It's an oil on canvas that is part of a multi-panel painting.
No, of course I cannot find the other panels.
Also the painter is unknown. Sigh.
It's listed (in everywhere that I can find , anyways) as being in
Civic Museums - Galleria Parmeggiani
Corso Cairoli, 2
but a pretty extensive search of that site has turned up zero evidence of it being there. Not that that means it isn't, there are plenty of items in museums that aren't shown in online catalogs. So basically what I'm saying is, I'm fairly sure it's there but since it isn't listed in their online catalog I don't have a definitive date on it.
I did email the museum to see if they would send me any images they have on file or at least confirm that it's there. I'll update if they get back to me.
I've found a few places online here and here, listing the painting around 1490-1500. There are some issues with that given that Dona Mencia, if that is her, would have been pretty young in the painting if that's the case. but hey, maybe. Let's investigate.
So I found as much artwork as I can from that period to compare. This was an ok resource and even lists the painting, but doesn't date it.
There are some elements to the painting that do help me though.
One- Dona Mencia isn't wearing a Spanish farthingale- which means it's either pre or post 1470-1480. The sleeve style indicates to me that it's later period- which matches up with the 1490s. There are a few Spanish and Milanese painting from that period that have the same silhouette. Looking at Beatrice d'Este was helpful, especially the Pala Sforzesca (1494). As well as the other paintings listed in my last post.
The chemise underneath matches paintings of Isabella from that period as well, with the super
drape-y bell sleeves poking out of the gamurra style gown- or Saya in Spanish.
The biggest hurdle in dating it for me is that I can't see much of the saya, specifically the bodice.
The bodices on the Italian and Spanish gowns from this period are super distinctive and both period and region specific, so it would have been a huge help to be able to see it.
I suppose we are going to have to do some guesswork on that.
In any case, I am starting with the camisa underlayer so that will be the next post, and we will get to the dilemma of the say when we get to it.
Also, for anyone that actually cares about the history or just wants to feel superior for a min, I'll post the actual research paper I'm doing in conjunction with this project ( What? you mean this weird rambling isn't the end of this?! Unfortunately, no) as soon as it's done, in a later post. One day.