Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Featured Garment: 1650s Anglo-Irish Hunting Suit

It's been quite a while since I managed to write any of these--a full 4 months, in fact.  Not only have I been lacking inspiration, but I haven't had a computer capable of serious research.  Not fun.

Anyways, I'm still having issues with finding pieces I felt like writing about, but finally did find one today, in the Hunting Clothing folder of my Pinterest.  An...intriguing painting of Sir Thomas Southwell,  an Irishman of English decent (his Grandfather came to Ireland during the Rule of James I, presumably sometime around the Plantation of Ulster, 1609), in hunting dress.  At the time of the painting, I believe he was "High Sheriff" of three Irish counties (Kerry, Clare, and Limerick)  I think the first thing that drew my eyes were those boots, followed by the firearm, and only then did I notice unusual fastening on the jerkin.

In the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds

On the whole, the outfit isn't too outlandish for the era, although possibly a decade out of date by the time of the painting; something which is apparently not unusual for Ireland.  It appears that he is wearing a doublet, either a jerkin or buff coat, breeches, those boots....and of the falling bands, of course.  I do believe I will be working my way from the bottom up.

Those Boots!:

Well, they are thigh highs, that's for certain.  As you can see, they have the square (or squareish) toes and stacked heel common to the era, but appear to have a considerable amount of extra length in the lower calf.  I'm guessing that they are of the style referred as bottes a chaudron (or caldron boots)[Bossan], even if they don't appear to have a particularly exaggerated cuff.  They do, however have the normal seams for the, with horizontal ones just below the knee, and vertical seams at front and back to accommodate the flare of the top.
Charles I at the Hunt, Van Dyck.  1635
Because of how close they fit, (as well as those wrinkles) I'm thinking they are made of a particularly fine leather--perhaps even chamois.  Looking closely at the instep of the right (as worn) shoe, you can see the seam of the vamp--on the whole, the pattern of the uppers isn't that much different from a pair of hosen or stockings, although I do see a slightly more complicated seam over the instep.  Admittedly, this could also be part of the strap holding his spurs on.  Even though they appear to be uneven in height, the right one is both folded down slightly, and may not be pulled up quite as far.

Suede Boots. 1630s, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In addition to the boots, a pair of boot socks would be worn--the lace trim of which you can see peeking out at the cuff.

The breeches are just that--either breeches or possibly Spanish breeches.  As near as I can tell, they developed from the Venetians of the prior century, with the volume slowly being taken in until there was little to no gathering at the waist.  Unfortunately, I don't seem to have more than that, so if you want to make them, you'll have to go from there (or the Spanish Breeches pattern here, which is from the 16th century and based on Alcega) and modify the draft accordingly.

I believe there are two layers here, a doublet and some variety of jerkin.  Unfortunately, we can't actually see anything of the doublet, other than the sleeves, which are closely fitted, somewhat short, and have the seam running up the back of the sleeve.  I assume it is of the normal form for the decade  It (assuming the pigments haven't changed too terribly much) is grey.  You can, at least, see that there are 3-5 buttons fastening the sleeves.

The jerkin is much more interesting.  You can see short sleeves, and a rather unusual, double breasted, closure.  So unusual, that when I first saw the thumbnail, I thought it might have been a baldric until I saw the change of angle just below the collar.  There are, as you can see, a /lot/ of buttons.

As said, you don't often see double breasted anythings up until the late 18th century....but they did exist, if scarcely.  The notable example that comes to mind--from a full century earlier, and was found on the Mary Rose (Artifact no. 81A3253), although apparently 9% of the leather jerkins aboard the Mary Rose may have been double breasted/side fastening [Gardiner, pp 37-39]

1650 Portrait of Giovanni Battista Lauro
I actually think it may be a buff coat--a variety of armour in the late 16th through 17th century, made of heavy leather and intended to protect against slashing blows (it was somewhat less effective against firearms and thrusting weapons....) in conjunction with a breastplate.  However, the apparent split in the center skirt is odd given the double breast (until I just realized that he would have been riding...at which point it makes sense).

Bag and belt:
I'm not 100% what I am looking at here; It appears to be some sort of frame purse, but has two layers.  I would hazard that it is square or rectangular, with a drawstring closure gathering the top and opening.  The question is, how do the two layers go together.
While originally I had the thought it was a game bag--which would be logical, given the setting--if you look at the frame, it's not big enough to actually fit anything in.  I suppose it could be some sort of small "fassing" bag, pulled through something like a purse frame.

As for the belt...again, my first thought was "that is weird", because I didn't think that swordbelts were used at this time (but rather, baldrics), much less have a similar fastening method and design to those of nearly a century before.  However, a closer look at artwork from the 1640s does indeed show them--they are just usually hidden underneath a sash.  See the image of young Charles II below:

Charles II when Prince of Wales by William Dobson, 1642
I'm not going to discuss them--it's not a topic I know much about, and I really don't feel like going down the rabbit hole of firearms.  However, the firearm is some variety of wheel-lock rifle; I have no idea about the sword.

That's all!  Hope it was of interest.
As always, these are my findings, correct or not (especially since this really isn't my period), and thoughts--they are meant to provoke civilized discussion on the outfit in question. 


© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. 

Bossan, Marie-Josephe.  Art of the Shoe. Parkstone Press (2004). 978-1859958032. [Accessed via Google Books preview]

Gardiner, Julie, and Allen, Micheal J. Before the Mast: Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose. Mary Rose Press (2005).  0-9544029-4-4

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