Códice de trajes- Jülich-Kleve-Berg

Of all the costume books of the 16th century, only the Códice de trajes (Cdt) dedicates multiple figures to clothing of the Duchy of Kleve-Juelich-Berg. This book appears to be a truncated copy of the manuscript in the Stibbert Museum. It is hand illustrated and coloured and depicts clothing from across the Hapsburg empire c1550. At first glance these figures seem very strange, they bear very little in common with portraiture from Cologne. But this is also true of all the depictions of Anne of Cleves. Taken together this suggests these figures bear some kind of relationship to art from the Duchy.

[DER ADEL IM LAND ZU GILCH] (nobility of Juelich)

We can see sumptuary laws in effect, only the noble figures feature gold on their gowns. The figure in black has the sole example of pearls on the main part of the headdress. The very few examples of this feature in portraits also seem to be related to rank. Pearls on the strip at the front of the headdress are common however.

The scrolling pearls on the neck of her kleyr (goller/partlet) is so very similar to what we see in all of Anne of Cleves official portraits. Even the wide necklace close to her neck (bentgin, bendichen) is different from all other figures.

Unfortunately of course, there is no way to know at this point what the source is, and thus who the figure is based on but if the temptation to consider this figure as Anne, it is also then tempting to consider the middle figure (not shown here) as William, and the figure in pink as Amalia.

[ZU GILCH] (citizens)

The gowns of all figures of Juelich are markedly different to the clothing of Koeln, in style and colour. However the colours used for the figures of Köln do seem to reflect the colours in portraits and written records, and the figures in this manuscript of the more southern parts of Germany are vibrant and match well to colours used in those regions. On balance we should be able to trust the general attempt even if there are limitations to pigments used and some errors.

The cut of the gowns also pose some questions. The sleeves are all half length and paned. And the full lower sleeves appear to be a plain fabric partially gathered under the bottom of these sleeves, rather than depictions of fur lined sleeves turned back, the latter of which do appear in the plates of Cologne.

There are few depictions of the Ducal family now, but what we have includes vibrant colour with paned and puffed sleeves. This includes Anne and Amalia in their family portrait, Maria (their mother) in her stained glass window portrait, and even the Duchess of Gelderland. Anne and Maria in particular include half length sleeves. This distinction seems to be a deliberate outcome or reinforcement of sumptuary laws if we look at the depictions of dress of the attendants in the Tryptichon- these represent a few different indicators of rank or status with simpler looser gowns, linen headdress and even a few in sombre dress associated with taking orders.

While less common, some of these sleeve features can be found in portraits from Cologne.

A medallion by the artist Hagenaur from his time in Koeln also clearly shows two paned and puffed sections at the top of the sleeves though we can’t tell much beyond that, a square neckline with a narrow decoration just above, and three necklaces. A portrait that appears to have been retouched features paned and puffed sleeves, and yet another supposedly from 1539 likewise includes paned and puffed sleeves. Caution with this portrait is needed as the headdress in particular is rendered incorrectly. Braids were never worn with the strip of linen framing the face, and these strips were pinned to the side back of the headdress, not in front.

Further to the gowns, half length sleeves over full linen hanging sleeves also appear all over Northern Renaissance art portraits of noble women.

While not the most common kind of sleeve they do feature in regions surrounding The North Rhine Westphalian area. These don’t directly prove these sleeves are accurate however it becomes less likely that they are not.

If we look further into the more widely available artworks, Barthyl Bruyn did include portraits of his patrons in large scenes and even as figures representing saints, Countess Emeza is perhaps the best recorded example as the prelimenary sketch still exists in the Louvre.

The legend of St Ursula is depicted in many ways throughout the North Rhine and so it is not a leap to consider some of these images as revealing some hints of contemporary dress.

Of special interest in this light is a small sculpture in Aachen. Three figures in particular seem to capture the style of dress seen in the Codice and Triptych and stained glass window of Maria.

This first figure shares many features with those in the Codice. Half length double paned sleeves, a deep v neckline, a heavy gold chain, very finely pleated partlet (kleyr) and hair and hat that reflects the styles in the Habsburg court.

The belt seems to match those worn by Anne in both her portraits.

The figure does not seem to have any of the usual indicators of allegory such as fringe on the upper arm.

The two figures to her right likewise capture contemporary dress, even taking into account shorthand needed to translate details such as braided trim.

The headdress on the second figure is clearly of the iconic style with a narrow frame to the face and a wide but flat piece to the back of her head.

The third figure has flowing hair but otherwise matches the gown of Maria of Cleves in her stained glass window portrait, though her skirt is not split.

The remaining figures, and St Ursula herself seem to follow a similar pattern.

The clothing seems to be very contemporary while hair and headdress of the fourth figure is straight from the various modelbooks for artists- large disks over he ears and a peaked floating frame over the head.

The final figure brings us back to the paned and puffed sleeves and her hair is simply twisted with a band worn at an angle.

While these figures appear to have hair twisted with ribbon to form loops that frame the face, there are numerous portraits of girls with the hair braided and looped in the same arrangement. These seem to indicate both age and marital status as many young women are also depicted with the iconic headdress and the more common linen type.

Many more examples of this style of dress appears in several works by the sculptor Douvermann, and many in the Passionalatr between 1520 and 1530.

The figure in black in the Codice seems to have caused the artist some trouble. It may be that some of these statues may have been used, as the small drops that frame the face are on multiple figures, some with other clear symbols of historical dress, some that appear to be otherwise in contemporary dress.