Fashion in the UL (continued)

We wrote last year about Fashion in the UL but with a distinct emphasis on French and Italian. Now we can give a more Germanic perspective as we have recently completed our holdings of the eight volume set Die Mode by Max von Boehn, a standard reference work published in the 1920s (our original purchase lacked one volume on the early 19th century which we were able to acquire separately later). The set covers fashion from the Middle Ages right through to 1914 and each volume is illustrated with artwork from the relevant time period. This becomes most interesting in this more recently acquired volume dealing with 1818-1842: as well as reproductions of paintings, it also includes exquisite colour plates reproduced from the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, a publication which ran for just over 30 years in the early 19th century but which is significant for its many colourful fashion illustrations. Here are some examples (click on each image to see an enlarged version):

Going back 300 years to the 1500s, the Library has a couple of books relating to the fascinating Matthäus Schwarz, who was responsible for what was possibly the first ever fashion book. Schwarz was an accountant for Jakob Fugger and during a 40 year period he documented the clothes he wore in what were essentially 16th century “selfies”, almost 500 years before our Instagram generation. Of course, he had to enlist the help of watercolour painters to achieve this and by 1560 he had well over 100 pictures on parchment with comments he wrote giving details of when he wore each outfit. These were bound into a book. This original book is held by the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig and a former director of this museum, August Fink, was responsible for the detailed descriptions given in the 1963 book Die Schwarzschen Trachtenbücher. More recently the book has been the subject of a research project here in Cambridge led by Dr Ulinka Rublack and involving the reconstruction of one of the outfits Schwarz wore. Dr Rublack coedited The first book of fashion: the book of clothes of Matthäus & Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg which features beautiful colour reproductions of the images along with English translations of Schwarz’s words and descriptions of the outfits.

Fashions of the 17th century are well illustrated by the photographs of costumes in Chic! Mode im 17. Jahrhundert, a catalogue of an exhibition held last year at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt in which fine examples of its collections were displayed.

Another exhibition catalogue from 2009, Grosser Auftritt: Mode der Ringstrassenzeit, features photographs of beautiful costumes from the collections of Wien Museum, focusing on fashions from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Katharine Dicks

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