The 16th century cook and his attire

Everything started with me searching different depictions of the female apron during the 16th century. And it ended up with me finding a lot of depictions of 16th century male cooks. Why not collect these, I realized.

On these depictions we see that there is a fashionable difference between an apron for a male or a female. The male apron seem to be extremely simple – just a squared piece of linnen fastened with a knot, and quite short.

I also would like you to note that quite a few of the depictions of our culinary artists portray them with fashionable clothes – it is slashed and well fitting, many with the hypermodern “kuhmaulschuhe”, the cow mouth shoe. I would like to point out that these cooks are most probably some sort of court cooks, or working for lords with a more lavish taste in food.

Also we see quite a few not only stylish, but also hygienic, hair nets and hair gears on our male chefs.

The Cook and His Wife Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)

The Cook and His Wife Albrecht Dürer (German, Nuremberg 1471–1528 Nuremberg)

"Kuechenmeisterei" by Peter Wagner, Nuremberg, 1486.

German Cookbook “Kuchenmeistery”, 1485

German Cookbook "Kuchenmeistery" 1485

German Cookbook “Kuchenmeistery”, 1485

"Das Buch Granatapfel im Latin Genant Malogranatus", 1510, Hans Burgkmair I.

“Das Buch Granatapfel im Latin Genant Malogranatus”, 1510, Hans Burgkmair I.

"Der Weisskunig" (The White King Learning to Conduct a Kitchen), 1514-1516, Burgkmair d. Ä.

“Der Weisskunig” (The White King Learning to Conduct a Kitchen), 1514-1516, Burgkmair d. Ä.

From a german manuscript namned "Frau untreue (Untrue woman). Artist unknown. Made first half of 16th century. 320 [118v] - Frau Untreue

From a german manuscript namned “Frau untreue” (Untrue woman). Artist unknown. Made first half of 16th century.

Die Hausbucher der Nurnberger Zwolfbruderstiftungen 1527

“Die Hausbucher der Nurnberger Zwolfbruderstiftungen”, 1527


Unknown artist and date

"Zeltlager Kaiser Karls V. vor Lauingen", 1546.

“Zeltlager Kaiser Karls V. vor Lauingen”, 1546.


Interior of an Italian kitchen, after woodcut in 'Banchetti compositioni di Vivende' by Christoforo di Messisburgo, published 1549

Interior of an Italian kitchen, after woodcut in ‘Banchetti compositioni di Vivende’ by Christoforo di Messisburgo, published 1549


“The chief”, woodcut by Jost Amman, in the cookbook “Ein new Kochbuch” by Marx Rupolt, 1581.

Marx Rumpolt, Ein new Kochbuch, 1581.

From the the cookbook “Ein new Kochbuch” by Marx Rupolt, 1581.

Bartolomeo Scappi Trattato di cucina 1570

Unknown artist and date

Bartolomeo Scappi Trattato di cucina 1570 kitchen

Unknown artist and date


Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529-1592) Baker Preparing Pies

“Baker Preparing Pies”. by Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529-1592)

I will end this little entry with a far older picture – it seems the manly square apron have been in fashion for quite some time:

Psalter. Flemish c. 1320-30.

Psalter. Flemish c. 1320-30.


Dressing guide: how to frau

This little tutorial I wrote in a collaboration with the very talented historical seamstress Katafalk. It is meant to be a simple How To approach to reproduction and reenactment of the women that accompanied mercenaries, i.e Landsknechts, during the 16th century.

The aim is to get a bigger understanding around what kind of women that accompanied the military trains, as well as fabrics, materials and cuts at the time. Enjoy!


“Baggage Train” from the “Triumphal Procession of Emperor Maximilian I” by Albrecht Altdorfer and workshop, (c. 1512-1515)

How to frau

A guide to easily understanding the 16th century female outfit in Northern Europe, focusing on women from lower social standing.

Before you begin it is vital to think about what kind social class, or type of woman, you want to recreate. This has nothing to do with LARP:ing (live action role playing) or acting. It is simply to do with making a construction that feels historically relevant. Women differs from each other in the 16th century, not only due to social standing. Even women from the same social class dressed differently according to her place in society.

That is why it is a bit unfortunate to put all these amazing women together in the same group as many tend to do today. It is important to know that women of the tross which followed the mercenaries, such as the landsknecht, were not female landsknecht, they were not soldiers. They followed the tross because of what the soldiers may need during military campaigns: help with domestic chores, as companions, whores, and different professional craftswomen. The captain’s wife did not have the same function as for example the wine maker/seller, but instead holds a different status in the group.
That is why it always is good to know who you want to recreate and what her role in the tross might be. First when you know this can you move forward and build your wardrobe. It might seem really boring, but this is only to help you make the right decisions for your outfit and should only be seen as something positive; as a helping hand.

Something that is worth thinking about is that the women in the tross during early modern time chose to follow a dangerous, erratic and by the society excluded group; the landsknecht. During this time in Europe the landschnecht was associated with violence, terror, and bloodshed. The society both hated and feared them. That is why it is most likely that the vast majority of the women, which in spite of this chose to follow them, came from the lower classes of society without any higher social status.

As these women, as we have discussed, are not a unitary group, calling them for “kampfraus” is of course incorrect. Instead we should look at what these women really were. By stepping away from the far too generalized mold “kampfrau” and instead start to think “lower class women” you in a way get a lot more freedom in your creativity, as you now choose to create a person with a profession or role in the camp and not only a platitude. That is why the word “kampfrau” is such a bad and foremost historically incorrect word to use. The word kampfrau have long been in use in different reenactment groups and have because of its popularity spread beyond these reenactment groups, so far that people are not aware that it is a made-up word. To with one word smooth out the diversity of the women of the tross feels incredibly sad and also disparaging to the history of the women.



As you might have noticed, the figure in the picture is only wearing a pair of hose. There is a reason for this, and that is the fact that this is the bottom layer. Corsets, stays, panties and bloomers came much later in history. The earliest extant pair of stays are from late 16th century and panties are a much later invention; they appear a bit into the 20th century, when skirts become shorter they started looking as what we are used to seeing them.

If your aim is to be as correct as possible, this is your bottom layer.

The hose are made out of wool fabric and cut on bias to give them as much stretch as possible. As you can see it has a sewn sole that continues up on the leg in a gusset. It also has a seam in the back to make it possible to shape the hose after the leg. As a woman you wear knee high hose that is fastened with garters which are tied around the leg. The hose can both be of solid colour or vertically striped, but the solid coloured hose seems to be most common on women of lesser means.

Watch out for!

Modern underwear – It is hard to build a historical silhouette when you are shaped by modern underwear.

Corsets and stays – Not everything from the 16th century is Tudor. If you look at are from the period you will see that the silhouette of the dresses from England, Italy and Germany differs from each other quite a bit. In Germany you can see that you have a more rounded bust, not the more cone-like shape an early stay will give you.




Shoes during this period vary widely and simpler and heavier shoes is a marker of a person of lesser means. The most visually prominent and fashionable shoe in the 16th century is the cow moth shoe, a flat shoe with a square shape in the front. The shape ranges from slightly rounded to more extravagant versions.

Something which is worth mentioning about the shoes in the 16th century is that they are welt sewn unlike the earlier shoes, which were turnshoes.
This means that they are sewn on the last with the right side out and have an insole which the upper is attached to, and then have an outsole which is attached under this. The outsole is attached to a strip of leather called welt. The welt is attached to the shoe in the same seam which binds the insole and upper together.
In turnshoes this piece of leather is called rand. The use of a welt and outsole makes it a lot easier to change the sole of the shoe when it is worn down without actually interfering with the construction of the rest of the shoe.
When the outsole is sewn to the welt you will get a visible seam, much in the same way which you can see in a classical dress shoe.

The cow moth shoes are not the only shoe worn at this period of time, there is a plethora of shoes. That is why it is important to look at the shoes in the area which you have chosen to recreate. Also look at the class from you have chosen to work within. Farmers are often depicted with heavier more rounded shoes and finer folk seem to be using daintier shoes, both more decorated and slashed.

Watch out for!

Wrong shoe on the wrong person – Just because a shoe model has been in use in England in 1520 does not mean that that shoe can be used when you are doing Italian or German 1520s.
This is the same way as the fact that an English farmer did not wear the same shoes as an English king.

Visible seams – There are no seams visible on extant shoes. Neither the heel counter nor side seams are sewn with a seam that is visible from the outside.
The only visible seam on welt shoes is the welt seam that attaches the outsole.




There is a large variety in the shape of the chemise, all from very simple with only a little width to garments where it is obvious a lot of fabric was used. The chemises comes with both high and low collars and I have a hard time seeing that either one is more common in any social class. However, taking into account the quality and the quantity of the fabric can say a lot about the social class which you are aiming for.

The collars varies from beautifully embroidered with tiny pleats to simpler pleating where you have sewn a flat linen band of the same fabric as the rest of the chemise to keep the pleats in place. The same goes for the finish of the sleeves even if the most common thing seems to be simple string which you tie with small bows at the wrist.
The closure of the chemises are often not seen. Here it is very likely that they have used hooks and eyes to keep the collar together. A hidden closure seems to be very common but other ways of closing the collar are simple linen ties or decorated braided ribbons which might match the colour of the embroidery you might have.
There are also depictions of decorative clasps, buttons, and pearls as closures, but it is worth noting that these are most often found on the upper classes and might not be fitting for a women of the tross.

Watch out for!

Too short chemise – Make your chemise to your knees or to your calf. Underskirts or petticoats are not in use yet so it is the chemise job to protect your body from the wools and vice versa. But do not make it all the way to the floor, a wet linen hem is cold and not at all pleasant against your legs.

Keep to your class – A poor soldier’s wife does not have a chemise with golden bands, embroideries, and beads. Think about what choices you make and you will get a more convincing outfit.

Raw silk – It might seem luxurious with a raw silk chemise and raw silk “looks like linen”. However, raw silk as a fabric for clothing is not correct for the 16th century and silk is also sensitive to sweat, something which is not optimal for a chemise.


Under dress



As I mentioned, the use of modern bras and corsets came a lot later in history than the 16th century. However, of course they used some kind of supportive underwear. We have the Schloss Lengberg garments as an example of many different ways to support the bust in the shape of linen “bras”. The Lengberg finds are dated to late 15th century and there are a lot of images from the 14th century depicting similar “bra dresses”.
When we come to the 16th century these pictures disappear from the pictorial evidence and instead we start to see sleeveless wool dresses. We can find similar dresses all over Europe on women preforming physical labour. We do not see them on women outside the “home” or the private sphere for the simple reason that you wore a dress over it when you were in more public places.

The under dress sometimes had stripes on the skirt, especially if you were from a higher social status. With this comes all kinds of laws and regulations which tells you who are allowed to wear what kind of materials and how many stripes you were allowed to have on your skirt. The fact that these laws exist is because people broke the rules, but it might be worth thinking about; did the laundry woman have silk brocade stripes on her under dress? Almost certainly not.

There are no evidence that the under dresses were as stiff as corsets, it is common to see in images and woodcuts that the bust have a soft more rounded shape.

Watch out for!

Underskirts and petticoats – There is no evidence for the use of underskirts. Many uses linen underskirts to get more shape over the hips and to protect their legs from the wool. Instead of doing that, make your chemise longer. This is something that we have pictorial evidence for and start using a full under dress to achieve those 16th century hips and to get a correct silhouette.

Modern brassiere – In the end it is simple, modern underwear will give your dress a modern silhouette. Sometimes you have to let go of your modern aesthetics to create a correct shape.




The classical 16th century dress in northern Europe had a high waist and low neckline. The shape of the dress varied depending on where in northern Europe you were. However, generally in Germany the square neckline and closure centre front was prominent. The dress had often just as low neckline in back as in front and had very often decorative stripes at the bottom of the skirt. The skirt was pleated and sewn onto the bodice as separate skirt and a bodice was not used.

It is easy to want to emulate the grandeur of the males, but the dresses of the women were generally a lot simpler in cut and details. The slashing that is so common in the outfits of the men is almost nowhere to be seen, you can perhaps slash the stripes of the skirts or in exceptional cases the guards around the neckline and centre front.

The sleeves of the dress are also in contrast to the male puffiness and extravagance. The sleeves are often very simple with a plain sleeve with a cuff that can either be worn folded up or folded down over the hand. You can also see simpler slashing of the sleeve at the shoulders and elbows but they are much less extravagant and as big as on the men.

It is just that, the contrast between the male and female, which is so beautiful when you see the tross together. Let the men have their big upper bodies and skinny legs and let the women be the opposite, wide hips and in contrast to the hips, slim upper bodies.

Watch out for!

Too low waist – Many wear their dresses on their hips and the result of that is that they never get the right silhouette. Let the waist sit where it should, a good bit over your bellybutton, and you will automatic get those nice 16th century hips and a correct silhouette.

Too high neckline – If you look at woodcuts, the neckline is often very low, this does not matter much as there is always a chemise under to cover up and to make sure that the boobs does not pop out. Dare to go lower both in the front and back and you will get a dress with a much more correct look.

Gaping lacing – It is very unusual to see the lacing on the dress, The everyday woman did not show her face in society in a dress with gaping lacing. The dress should be completely shut in front either with hidden lacing or hook and eyes.


On the head


When you look at the paintings and graphical pictures of women from the 16th century a clear picture emerges; grown-up women hid their hair. To wear your hair down is something which might have been done by extremely young unmarried women or, for example, prostitutes. However, the ordinary woman wore her hair up and almost always covered. To wear the hair up with some kind of covering is so common that you can find picture of women in bathhouses with their head covered while otherwise in the nude.

Even amongst prostitutes you see a great majority with their hair up and covered. If you don’t wish to cover your hair it should at least be braided and put up properly on the head. The visible cute braided hanging loops by the ears that peek out under the veil during the late 15th century is hopelessly unfashionable during the 16th century. If you wear a head covering, the whole hair is now covered.

A very common headpiece is the padded linen cap that is so typical for the northern European fashion. It most likely started with the braided hair being put up in the back of the head under the veil, but as all fashion it went to excess. People started to use padding of different kind, for example the wulsthaube, a padded cap, which you then draped you headdress over. The shape varies from small to enormous.

The veils can be found in all sorts of fashion, everything from undecorated linen veils and super thin silk veils to richly decorated and embroidered. As always, the question is who do you want to portray?

Watch out for!

Cover your hair – the easiest way to enhance your outfit historically is to put on a proper headdress. Don’t be afraid of the padded cap, it might look strange when taken out of its context but nothing can beat it when used together with accurate clothing. If you do not want to use a wulsthaube you can choose to use a draped veil. Look at images and your will surely find something you like.




The 16th century brings a lot of variety in hats. If you generalise a bit you find that two different kinds seem to be the most popular. One is a hat with a split brim where the brim parts overlaps each other a bit with perhaps a few feathers. The other one the one that looks like it has gathered fabric underneath and is filled with feathers.

When it comes to ordinary women, hats are not always worn and when you see a hat on a women it is often of a more simple kind. It is a more safe way to go to not wear a hat; a veil or wulsthaube goes a long way. There are of course images of crazily feathered hats but that does not make it the norm to wear a whole bird stuffed into our hat. Neither is it practical for a hard working woman in the tross. A fully feathered hat is more likely to be in the way for a simple washerwoman. It seems like it is more common with feathers among prostitutes.

When it comes to the choice of feathers we can see that natural ostrich feathers are the most common during the 16th century. We can of course play with the thought that other types of feathers were used but if you look at the pictures from the period we can see that the ostrich is in extreme majority. Everyone wore them; we can see them among landsknechts, wealthy merchants and even the noblemen, such as the very fashion interested Henrik VIII.

Coloured feathers are not at all common during the 16th century. If coloured feathers was used they were of course dyed with natural dyes. The process is technically hard to achieve and that is probably why it is not common to see the coloured feathers. Instead what we see is more than anything else white or naturally grey ostrich feathers, or alternatively, naturally black ostrich feathers. Think about who you are recreating and look at images from your time and you will soon see that the coloured feathers are absent.

Watch out for!

Don’t slash your hat – The popular slashed hat crown cannot be found in the pictorial sources; you can slash the underside of the brim but it is much more common to not slash at all. Decorate instead with a few feathers and don’t slash at all.

Stay away from coloured feathers – They existed but were very uncommon. If can feel nice to be able to match your dress with synthetically coloured feathers, but it is not particularly historically accurate. Why not dive into the wonderful world of natural shades of ostrich. Beautiful in the 16th century, beautiful today!




The most common garment for keeping warm which you see in the pictures is the short cape called gollar. It can either have a high collar or no collar at all, and it can be either short or it can be more of a cloak and go down to the hips. It looks like a liripipe without the head part and can be lined in fur for extra warmth.

There are a number of images of women who wear their capes over what they carry on their backs, it is a good way to keep rain out of your packing. The gollar is as much a trending garment as it is practical and it is often decorated with contrasting borders.

On images and paintings of women from the higher social classes you often see them in silk brocade with fancy clasps, but on simpler women you almost always see no closure at all. We can presume that they were closed with hook and eyes, or that they simply lay on the shoulders. Alternatively they might have used hidden lacing which they tied together as a bow.

There are also examples of this kind of garment which looks more like short vests and are squarer in shape. Look at what is most common for the type of person you want to recreate, perhaps you have no need for a gollar.

Watch out for!

Dress according to your class – It is easy to fall in love with a garment from the upper class, but as always; chose a garment that represent what you recreate. If you need to dig deep after evidence for a garment you want to make or a detail you want to recreate, you might need to stop and think for a bit. Perhaps what you are looking for was not something that was commonly done. A better starting point is to look at what the common thing to do was. Find what most people actually did. It will be a lot easier to make a believable outfit when you have cracked the code of what is probable and what was done. Just because something is from the lower classes does not automatic makes it boring and plain. Find that thing that makes your garment special.




At the first glance the 16th century can feel very “bling” with large golden chains, rings on all fingers and on multiple knuckle joints, many necklaces at the same time. However, all these things are most common among the nobles. As soon as you step down a step on the social ladder all this disappear, especially among women of less means. You might have one ring, but necklaces of precious metals are nowhere to be seen.
On pictures of prostitutes from this time we do find these kind of accessories. However, bear in mind that these were most likely copies in less precious metals, they wanted to mimic the nobility and be showy.

What ordinary women wore was much plainer, most of what you see are accessories hanging from the belt. Small leather bags of different kinds, sewing tools, and often a simple knife; sometimes you also see keys. It seems like it was the practice to wear two belts, one that you kept your things on and one that you used for draping the dress up when marching. However, you never see two belts worn at the same time. We can presume that they had a belt specially for the draping that they took off when they wore the dress down. As this belt never was visible it would probably not been decorated with more than a simple belt buckle.

Many speaks about booty from the battlefields but think about the fact that if there was any booty this was first and foremost for the men. Wives, hang-arounds or women without any social status in the tross were probably not allowed to enjoy expensive fabrics, gold or jewellery. In other words; it is not likely that the cook and laundry woman in the tross had gold rings on all fingers.

Watch out for!

Less is more – Looking like a living Christmas tree with a million things hanging off your belt or on your outfit is never a positive thing. Do not carry more things in your belt than is logical. If you need to carry a lot of stuff, than take a basket to carry in your hand, a sack, or the things wrapped up in fabric which you carry on your back. Willow baskets on your back does not seem to be common at all in the tross.

Don’t put on all your fancy jewellery – We all want the fancy stuff, but as always, reflect over who you are recreating and what is practical. It is not likely that a women that followed the tross had gold chains and lots of rings, unless she was a particularly popular prostitute.




And there we have it, the complete kit! With the help of another belt you can drape the gown up in this way, this makes it a lot easier to march and is a very common thing to see in pictures of women in the tross.

So a short recap:
Do not imitate the men, just because they look a certain way does not mean that you can copy it and put it in your women’s outfit. Also think about colours and colour combinations. Lighter colours were a lot easier to create. Perhaps it is not fitting for a poor soldier’s wife to wear a tricoloured bright purple dress with four contrast colours in the same bright colour scheme. Poorer women wore less contrast colour and lighter coloured fabrics.
It is good to think about fabrics in the same way. Silk, velvet and brocades belongs on the Saxon noblewomen in Cranach paintigns, not on the general women of the tross. To base you outfit on them is as far off as basing them on Elizabeth I most macabre feastgown.
During the medieval era and early modern time wool is the absolutely most common of fabrics both for high and low born along with linen.

It is a lot about dressing within your social class and not pick and choose details from other classes. Just because a noblewomen have pretty sleeves does not mean that your simple soldier’s wife had the same kind of sleeves; even if they both are from 1523. I instead dare you to make a simple woman, because these were the women who followed the landsknecht.

Let go of your modern ideals. The concepts of what is pretty and beautiful nowadays are not applicable in the 16th century. If you are recreating a period you are also going to have to recreate their ideal of beauty. It is also very important to keep track on what part of the 16th century you are making and were you are geographically. The fashion changes around every ten years and there are big regional differences in northern Europe, even among the simpler people and underclass.

Always check the title of your sources or image that you are using. Even if Pinterest tells you one thing does not mean that the title is correct. The original title may also reveal that what we see on the picture is actually a biblical motive or allegory. If that is the case then the picture is not suitable to base a simple German women clothing on. If something look extra strange or macabre on a picture, ask yourself the question; what type pf image is this? You cannot base your clothes on a caricature, not either a saint, queen or noble woman’s dress – at least not if you want to portray a women of the tross.


July 13, 2015

How to Frau – svenska

Posted by Cathrin under Uncategorized
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The paupers and peasants of the Renaissance

The 16th century might seem to be overflowed with magnificent Tudors, curly Italian Renaissance nobles, finely dressed reformers or colorful mercenaries. But the finest woolen, the golden brocade and the velvet was dedicated for the privileged few. Most people in Europe were of the more simple kind.

Although 16th century is a period known for it’s experimental playfulness when it comes to fashion among both highborn and low, that doesn’t mean the strict medieval rules surrounding clothing and fabrics in any way disappeared. On the contrary. The newly found consumerism did force the higher classes in society to enforce strict sumptuary laws, making sure the the finest accessories and fabrics remained a privilege for the chosen few. Breaking these sumptuary rules in the lower classes meant either a loss of property (the garment being confiscated) or a fine, working as a strain on a member of the working classes. A person of lower status could not purchase the “rights” to a specific item or material.

Sumptuary laws “regulated clothing, ornamentation, food, drink, and other forms of luxury, imposing a hierarchy of consumption. These laws prohibited certain ranks of persons from wearing specified cloths, garments, or ornamentation. Typically, the rarest furs were reserved for royal families, lesser furs for nobles, and inferior furs for commoners”. An English proclamation of 1559 stipulated:

“None shall wear in his apparel any cloth of gold, silver, or tinsel; satin, silk, or cloth mixed with gold or silver, nor any sables; except earls and all of superior degrees.”

In England 1510, for example, “Parliament passed an extensive and detailed law regulating the wearing of all sorts of fabrics and of trim from fur to gold and silver. This law was amended and added to in 1514 and again in 1515 and 1553”.

This meant that commoners most definitely couldn’t, and wouldn’t, dress as extravagant as the nobles or classes above them. Lower classes, such as laborers and apprentices would wear linen, a light, cool fabric derived from the flax plant, wool, or sheepskin.

But how did the commoner, and the truly poor, dress and look like during the 16th century? This question intrigued me to look into depictions of the 16th century paupers and peasants. (As my collection of depictions from this period is predominately northern European, it’s reflected here as well). Enjoy:

Three Peasants In Conversation by Albrecht Dürer, 1497

“Three Peasants In Conversation” by Albrecht Dürer, 1497


“Amorous Peasants”, by Albrecht Durer, ca 1500.


“Three pilgrims at the crossroads”, by Hans Burgkmair, 1508.

"The Beggars". Lucas van Leyden (Netherlandish, 1494–1533) Date: ca. 1509

“The Beggars”. Lucas van Leyden, 1509


“Resting pilgrims”. Lucas van Leyden, 1508.

Gypsies in the Market Hans Burgkmair, 1510.

“Gypsies in the Market”. Hans Burgkmair, 1510.


“The Milkmaid”. Lucas van Leyden (Netherlandish, 1494–1533) Date: 1510

Duerer, Die Marktbauern - Duerer, Peasants at the Market/Engr./1519 -

“The Peasant and His Wife at Market”, by Albrecht Durer, dated 1512


“Peasant Couple Dancing”, Albrecht Dürer, 1514


“Bagpiper”. Albrecht Dürer, 1514,


“The Pedlar”. Hieronymus Bosch, 1516

“Cripples, beggars and street musicians”. Bosch, Hieronymus c. 1450 – 1516. (also attributed to Pieter Brueghel (or Bruegel) the Elder).

“Cripples, beggars and street musicians”. Bosch, Hieronymus c. 1450 – 1516. (also attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder).


“The Peasant and His Wife”. Albrecht Dürer, 1519


Sorgheloos (“Carefree”) in Poverty, 1510–20. Netherlandish


“The Beggars”. Lucas van Leyden, 1520.


“Dancing farmer couple “Niklaus Manuel gen. Deutsch. 1518/1520

A Peasant Woman Carrying a Jug. Sebald Beham (German, 1500-1550), 1520.

“A Peasant Woman Carrying a Jug”. Sebald Beham (German, 1500-1550), 1520.


“Two peasants on the way to the market” attributed to Hans Weiditz , 1521.


“Farmer love couple”, Hans Sebald Beham, 1521


“Bauer” (Farmer), Niklaus Manuel gen Deutche.

Bettler (Begger), Niklaus Manuel gen Deutche.

“Bettler” (Begger), Niklaus Manuel gen Deutche.


“Old woman with drop spinnel”, Urs Graf. 1519/1521.

The Dentist. Lucas van Leyden (Netherlandish1494–1533)

“The Dentist”. Lucas van Leyden (1523)

The Surgeon. Lucas van Leyden, (Netherlandish 1494–1533), 1524.

“The Surgeon”. Lucas van Leyden, 1524.


“The Musicians”. Lucas van Leyden, 1524.


“The Pensive Carpenter”, 1530. Albrecht Altdorfer


1535, the ‘Kirchweihfest’ (The Parish Fair)

SBehamKirchweihrechts (1)

1535, the ‘Kirchweihfest’ (The Parish Fair)

"Dancing beggars", 1538, Cornelis Massijs

“Dancing beggars”, 1538, Cornelis Massijs


“December” from Golf Book (Book of Hours). 1540.

Woodcut by Cornelis A. Teunissen, 1541

Woodcut by Cornelis A. Teunissen, 1541


“The Peasants’ Feast or The Twelve Months”, Hans Sebald Beham. 1546-1547


“Peasants’ Brawl”, Hans Sebald Beham. 1546-1547


“The Peasant Banquet”. Sebald Beham, 1546/1547.

Studies pf Peasants ca 1550, Pieter Brugel


“The Sleeping Peddlar Robbed by Monkeys”. 1562

Three blind pilgrims holding staffs and moving to right, after Pieter Bruegel the elder. 1566.

Three blind pilgrims holding staffs and moving to right, after Pieter Bruegel the elder. 1566.


A woodcut of Der Rebmann (the vine-dresser) using a fork hoe in Jost Amman’s 1568 “Das Standebuch”.

The Drunkard Pushed into the Pig Sty. Made after 1568, after Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

“The Drunkard Pushed into the Pig Sty”. Made after 1568, after Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The Blind Leading the Blind. Pieter Bruegel, 1568.

“The Blind Leading the Blind”. Pieter Bruegel, 1568.


“Summer”. Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568.

The Beggars. Pieter Breughel, 1568.

“The Beggars”. Pieter Breughel, 1568. (On the back of the painting is an inscription in Flemish: Cripples, take heart, and may your affairs prosper.)

Weekly proverb of the past: “Wrapped in a blue cloak”

This weeks proverb will be one that provided me with some confusion. The proverb is presented by Bruegel the elder by a man putting on a blue cloak:

blue cloak

The very same symbolism can be found in Bruegel the elders very famous painting “The dutch proverbs“, a painting also named “The Blue Cloak”. In this painting we see a man having a blue cloak being put on him by a woman:


When I first looked up this proverb, the meaning confused me slightly. To be “wrapped in a blue cloak” means “to be deceived”. This means that in the painting above, the man is being deceived by the woman, possibly his unfaithful wife.

But to me, I’ve always found the color blue during medieval times being associated as a positive color. In fact, the color blue is during history connected divinity and to the Virgin Mary – we often find her depicted in a blue robe, symbolizing piety, faith and chastity. But in fact the color blue in sakral contexts is a color that represents the secular earth, while red represents the divine. This is why we see Jesus often in a red robe (he is divinity) cloaked in a blue robe (secular earthly world). Virgin Mary have the opposite – she is dressed in blue (she a earthly woman) but is robed in divinity (a red cloak).

In this scenario, off course, the color blue in itself represents the deception. The wife is deceiving him by wrapping him blue. The same thing with the man in the first picture – he is ironically covering himself in a blue cloak, thus fooling himself.

We find men being cloaked in blue in more early modern depictions, so its seems the proverb kept its popularity:

A Flemish Proverb. 'A Wife Hiding Her Infidelity From Her Husband Under A Blue Cloak' Pieter Bruegel The Younger

A Flemish Proverb. ‘A Wife Hiding Her Infidelity From Her Husband Under A Blue Cloak’
Pieter Bruegel The Younger, late 16th century


De Blauwe Huyck (The Blue Cloak), 1577

Why the “Langberg finds” are not knickers

Well, because they are not female, but male underwear. There seem to be alot of misconceptions about these intriguing underpants discovered in Lengberg castle as wall stuffing, and often they are wrongly attributed to sexy lady lingerie. But (un)fortunately, they are not…

This fascinating world of male tangas have already been explored by other bloggers here and here, and I just wanna share with you some extra examples of these fancy underpants that I have found in the wondrous world of early modern art.

I especially like a very exhibitionistic selfportrait by everyones favourite Albrecht Dürer. But apparently this revealing tanga-portrait isn’t the naughtiest selfportrait Mr Dürer offers us… there is one even more daring out there, made 1509, here! (Viewer discretion advised)

Anyhow – back to Dürer’s selfportrait of him in his underwear. Dürer was actually sick when he made this – he sent this drawing to his physician, in which he educationally points out where his pain is situated:

“Do wo der gelb fleck is und mit dem finger drawff dewt do is mir we” (Translation: There where the yellow spot is and the finger points, there it hurts me)


Self Portrait, by Albrecht Dürer (1521)

What sickness Dürer actually had contracted, is unfortunately a mystery.

Holy blue for the private relics

Not only seems this type of underpants be a little extra popular among saints, as my following depictions indicate. Also, surprisingly, the preferred color seems be blue:


The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (1465)


St. Sebastian by master E.S (ca. 1500)


Kettenhemdmartyrium des Hl. Georg (1465)


Bellifortis martial tract of Konrad Kyeser (1414-15)


De heilige Sebastiaan, Lucas van Leyden, 1508 – 1512


“The Peasant Banquet”. Sebald Beham, 1546/1547.


Hans Baldung, Detail of The Crucifixion of Christ (1512)


Jason and Medea, from “History of Troy” by Guido da Columna. (Early 1400s)

Brosamer, Hans - 1540

A couple, by Hans Brosamer (1540)

Bathers from Das Ständebuch (The Book of Trades), 1568

Bathers from “Das Ständebuch” (The book of trades) 1568

Suggested further reading, for the naughty curious:



A glance at female headwear


“Januar” by Jörg Breu the Elder. (1510-15)

I’ve lately realized that when it comes to female head gears during the 16th century a lot of people today feel unsure of what women actually wore on their heads.

As a quick experiment I decided to go through my Pinterest-collection of depictions from the 16th century. This collection have a mix of women and men, high aswell as lowborn. I want to point out that the collection does have a majority of northern European depictions, and also higher percentage of depictions from the first part of the 16th century. Full picture, title and dates are found in my Pinterest-collection.

Women and hats

Lets start with the hats, shall we? Of the almost 440 depictions that include women, I found 83 depictions of women wearing hats:

hattar 1

Hattar 2

When looking at these pictures we see that the majority of the hats worn by women are fairly simple in style and does not have feathers attached or are slit:

  • 39% of the hats are adorned with feathers – majority of the women with feathers in their hats seem to either be of a noble birth or are women from the train of mercenaries. As far as I can see all feathers depicted are natural white ostrich feathers.
  • 19% of the hats are in someway slit – these hats also seem to attribute either highborn or women accompanying mercenaries. We do not see any clear depictions of hats that are slit on the crown of the hat, only on the brims.

I humbly conclude that slit and feathered hats are mainly a noble habit of adorning oneself, and that it was copied by a few more extravagant women in lower classes. It might also be that feathers are more common among prostitutes than common women in for example military trains, but this theory is simply a guess at this point.

Women and head scarfs

One thing is immediately clear when browsing through the pictures – hats are actually not the most popular look. Most women in most classes wore different variations of head scarfs or veils. Of the almost 440 depictions of women I have collected, more than 220 have only head scarf or veil, no hats. (I have not included only hairnets in this calculation).

I wont include all these 220 examples of women – they can be found in the collection. But I picked out a few examples of all these beautiful head scarfs/veils, for the joy of it:


Conclusion? The 16th century woman sure loved covering her hair. The majority used head scarfs/veils to do this – sometimes using the wulsthaube to exaggerate the profile. A smaller percentage used hats – sometimes in combination with head veil or hairnets. The hair seems to be completely or almost completely covered, as a contrast to earlier fashion. i.e braids sticking out under the head scarf during the 15th century. Different colors and materials could be used depending on social status, but a vast majority seems to be white linen.