Friday, 27 April 2007

romanesque venice

I was perusing the details for a local midwinter ball recently. It's set in renaissance Venice, and clothing to suit is encouraged. Except one of the fliers left off the word "renaissance". Which got me to thinking - what was worn in 12thC Venice? I'm not going to make up a dress specifically - It's a productive year when I make 2 full garments lately, and I've worn out chemises to replace and a half sewn woolen dress. This is just a though experiment and research jaunt. Let's see how much the Internet can tell me. I guess i might as well document how Ii search too, in case it helps others.

Firstly, I'm extremely unlikely to find anything about actual venetian costume - with all my 12th C costuming links I would likely have heard about any authoritative sites. Instead I'm going to look for artworks.

Well firstly to find something out about Venice. Wikipedia has a fairly good introductory article, that confirms Venice was around and not a tiny outback town in the era. It gives a list of churches and monuments, but it doesn't give any clues about the date of these.

So I'll try googling "romanesque venice", this will probably want to tell me about building built in the era, which might just have some original decorations. I find romanesque an indispensable search term when looking for 12th C artworks.

In the first few blurbs is one that tells me of 2 romanesque churches:

  • Romanesque church of SS. Maria and Donato in the region of Murano
  • Torcello: this little island has a seventh-century cathedral, the Romanesque church of S. Fosca
Wikipedia had a list of churches in Venice I noticed earlier, and it provides Italian spellings now I know these to be romanesque:
  • Basilica di Santi Maria e Donato
  • Santa Fosca
It also has a nice article about Torcello which mentions that the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta has a lot of 12th C building works and decorations, and even has a picture of a 12th C mosaic from there.

Next I google image search both the English and Italian versions of the names collected above.
I've developed a fair eye for what looks romanesque, jsut by looking at hundreds of romanesque artworks. I still need to check the likely ones, luckily the era of pictures is often labelled on Italian sites that have more than one entry - and it's fairly easy to find given the convention to use roman numerals that many European countries use. "(XVI sec.)" is 16th C and "un periodo antecedente al XII secolo" sounds like the period before the 12th C for example.

so notable results:
And after all that looking, still only one real picture to show for it.

So comments upon that last linked picture:
  • To the left of Jesus is a lady in red. She appears to have both cloak and veil. The rest is obscured.
  • In the middle row, the virgin Mary stands to Jesus's left. She's not a good one to base costumes upon because she dresses more conservatively and old fashioned.
  • In the bottom row, the kneeling woman right of centre is likely to be a patron - a real person. What we can see of her dress is that it is just above floor length, and has tight sleeves with a bit of decoration at the wrists. Her red cloak appears to be also used as veil. It looks like the virgin Mary's dress and cloak isn't a bad model for her garments.
  • All in all this is a pretty generic early 12th C look. No regional differences apparent in this picture. Maybe I'd find some with a wider range of pictures. If I could be bothered.

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