A Diary of a Dress Inspired by a Portrait of Laudomia de' Medici


First, let me show you a black and white image so you can see the details. Even then, there are some things that aren't visible. This might be a high necked doublet. That's what I'll be making anyway, and it will be hooked in front. I'll show similar styles later on that are all closed in front. The waist has looped tabs. What can't be seen is that there are also tiny looped tabs on the armband of the shoulder panes. The edges of the waist and shoulder tabs, shoulder panes, overskirt and sleeves are all piped in white. The exact way the sleeves are built is hard to see, but I'll be making them the same way as http://lynnmcmasters.com/ladyselizcourtsleeve.html.

The four-pearl ornaments have a tiny red bead in the middle, and they're on the shoulder panes, on the sleeves, and on either side of the opening of the overskirt.

The dress will be made of a nice silk habotai in 10mm, instead of what looks like velvet on the portrait. I'll try to find a nice brocade, maybe even velvet, for the forepart. My local fabric store has something in the drapery section that will be suitable if I can't find anything better. I'm just hoping I'll fall in love with a piece of fabric, instead of having to buy the only suitable I could find.

I'll be making a low necked smock and partlet, for practicality. It will be easier to mix and match between outfits if I have a separate partlet than if I have to make a whole new smock. The wrist ruffles really look like tiny ruffs, so I think I'll be able to make them separate as well, but there is also the possibility of sewing them to the smock sleeves.

Now, I couldn't go only on two bad reproductions of one portrait. I found some nice similar dresses here: http://homepage.mac.com/festive_attyre/research/diary2002/page1.html. Most of them are later than Laudomia's gown, but I found many of them to be constructed very similarly. The main differences seem to be that the doublet is worn closed in later years, and that there is a one-piece overdress, while Laudomia's doublet was open and had a separate skirt.

Here is one picture I looked at in particular. This is a portrait of an unknown lady by a follower of Tiziano. Yes, I grabbed it from http://www.marquise.de, I hope I will be forgiven since it's only for personal use.

The construction is very similar, down to the ruffles, the pearl necklace and the hat. The wrist ruffles are more like just a ruffle, as opposed to the mini-ruff look on the Laudomia gown. It also has the striped sleeves that, I believe, are very popular a little later in period. It's visibly very close to Laudomia's gown, both in time and place, and I find it extremely reassuring to be able to scrutinize a higher resolution reproduction of a portrait. It puzzles me somewhat that Laudomia is the only painting I can see in my collection that has matching sleeves. I'll take this painting as proof that some of those gowns were hooked in front, since it's impossible to see the closure of Laudomia's gown.

Now, as for the stole, I have two images. This one, a detail from the portrait of Angelica Agliardi de Nicolinis, by Giovanni Battista Moroni.



Also, I found this picture, a portrait of Portrait of a Noblewoman
Lavinia Fontanai, 1580. This one has a jeweled head and is tied to her waist just like Laudomia's stole.



I also have a detail of a painting, but I have no idea what painting it came from, since I found it on http://homepage.mac.com/festive_attyre/research/diary2002/page1.html. You can see the jeweled head in great detail. I have no idea if I'll have the patience to make something like that one day. I'd make it out of polymer clay or something similar. But it's not for now.


I'm still wondering how those stoles were worn when they were not holding them in their arms. Lavinia's stole almost looks like it's tied in the back so it hangs at her side. Will have to do more research.

April 10, 2002

Great news! I went to the library today and managed to find a book with a reproduction of Laudomia's portrait! It's black and white, it's small, and it's a detail of the left arm and bodice, but it's much better than anything I've seen so far! It's in Florence, The Golden Age 1138-1737, Gene Adam Bruckner. Abbeville Press Publishers New York, 1984, p. 42. (Scan follows)

On this image, you can see three things I hadn't noticed before. First, it's not continuous piping that's on the edges of the gown, it's some kind of mini-tabs. I'll probably make piping anyway, but this detail is very intriguing. Also, there are looped tabs on the paned sleeve cap not only below the armband, but also above the panes and between the panes and the armband. And finally, there are four-pearl jewels on the neckline of her gown. I'm almost suprised they don't go down the front on either side of the front closure (unless there is no front closure at all).

March 22, 2004

I finally took the book home to scan it. Here's the scan of the image, if you click on it you'll have the HUGE high-resolution image. It's much, much better than the photocopies I had originally put up.

October 21, 2006

I got this image from... somewhere! It's been circulating on the Internet. I think it's a scan from Moda a Firenze. In that book, apparently, our Laudomia is identified as being Isabella de' Medici!

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