compiled by La Signora Onorata Katerina da
Documentation on What Lies Beneath - Florence Underpinnings.
One of my (many) current quests is look for extant examples of possible Florentine
underpinnings and linens.
One of the most interesting books I have discovered was Elisa Ricci's
Old Italian Lace. This was found in one of my late night
internet searches, about a year ago, quite by accident. It was
published at the turn of the 20th century and in it are some unique
photographs of extant lace. I am unsure if most of the examples are
actually still in existance. Let me share them with you. (from Old Italian Lace)
If anyone has any Florentine examples, please contact me.
Above: The caption here says it is resident in Milan.
Left:This is a shirt from Binney, Florence.
Above: from La Mode a Firenze
16th century Italian found in Museo del Tessuto, Prato. (Tuscany). It
is made of linen with cross-stitch embroidery in 'rust' coloured silk.
The trim is of bobbin lace, matching the embroidery. The seams are
embroidered with silk also. The button is 'woven from similar coloured
The sleeve ends are
gathered into pleats, ending in a cuff. There is no visible stitching
over the pleating, on the outside of the sleeve. Interestingly, there are no sleeve gussets. There are however, body gussets.
At Home in Renaissance Italy has pictures of two extant items, both made of linen. Both can be found in the
Museo del Tessuto, Prato (Tuscany) and are described as 16th century. The first is a woman's camicia and is very similar to the one in La Moda a Firenze. It
si made of linen with cross-stitch 'rust' coloured embroidery around
the neckline, cuffs, sleeves and over the seams. This item also has
bobbin lace on the neckline and the hem. The
second is a man's shirt but is very similar in construction and
decoration, using (blue/black silk). Both items have the end of the
sleeve gathered in pleats and ending in a cuff. These provide extant examples of camicia that approximate the flat
neckline seen in many Florentine portraits and are possibly as close as
we will get, at the moment.
||This is from La Moda a Firenze
and is a child's camicia/shirt embroidered in gold and red silk with the monogram of Christ. It is
found in the Prato museum (Tuscany) and is cited as from the last
quarter of the 16th century.
The collar and cuff ruffles are pleated tightly. The sleeve closures
are twisted cords, threaded through a red silk-embroidered eyelet.
Stays and Stiffenings:
|According to La Moda a Firenze, there
is no record of 'metal boned, whalebone or reed' stiffened corsets in
Eleanora d'Toledo's wardrobe accounts. There is one extant item of
'stays', that Eleanora was buried in. This can also be found in Janet
Arnold's Patterns of Fashion.
It is found in the Galleria de Costume, in Florence. They are
made of red velvet, rounded over the stomach. It had 18 metal hooks .
There are small gussets at the side seam, below the waist. It is lined
and interlined with linen.
||Moda alla Corte dei Medici
has several photos of the Medici burial clothing of the 16th century,
including the red knitted silk hose of Elenora d'Toledo. These measure
52 cm in length, 23cm long foot, 11.5cm ankles) p 86.
is the imbusto (taked from the inside) showing a possible saccoccia
(pocket) hanging from the waist of the sottana. This is an early
example of the saccoccia seen in later Allori paintings.
It consists of two pieces of yellow silk tafetta which were found
amongst the folds of Eleanora's burial dress. Janet Arnold surmised it
was half of a small pocket/pouch.
(Moda alla Corte dei Medici p56.)
- Ajmar-Wollheim, Marta & Dennis, Flora (ed). At Home in Renaissance Italy. V&A Publications London, 2006. ISBN: 10 1 85177 488 2.
- Moda alla Corte dei Medici, gli albiti
restauranti di Cosimo, Eleanora e don Garzia, Firenze : Centro
Di, 1993. Description: 107 p. : ISBN: 8870382389
- Ricci, Elisa. Old Italian Lace Volume 1. William
Heinemann, London. 1913 available on line:
Orsi Landini, Roberta & Niccoli, Bruna.
La Moda a Fioenze 1540-1580. Pagliai Polistampa, Firenze, 2005. ISBN:
© K Carlisle, 2005-2008