Sunday, May 3, 2015

Video Tutorial: Early 15th Century Horned Veil

The other day I was goofing off with my headdress stash (which I do a pretty fair amount of), when I came across a way of pinning a veil around a shaped foundation piece that resulted in a closer representation of early 15th century veiling than some of my previous attempts without needing to use more than one veil. After a bit more experimentation, I believe I have something useful in sharing, if still not entirely perfect or "accurate". The best way for me to share this is obviously video format, so let's start with that:

Before getting into some source references, let's get the technical details out of the way. The rectangular veil is 27" x 34" and is a mid-light-weight linen (probably 3.5oz). I've shared the horns before, but here's the post where I first shared it, and you can see that I've come a long way!

I referenced that the look was akin to Rogier van der Weyden's "Lady Wearing a Gauze Headdress" (circa 1435), so it makes sense to start with that one (below). There are, obviously, some differences, but as I said in the video, using a larger veil and playing around with where you are pinning might bring the look even closer to this example.

"Lady Wearing a Gauze Headdress", Rogier van der Weyden, c. 1435

After reviewing my video, though, I was struck by how closely my version ended up being to another of van der Weyden's examples- the female donor in his 1445 "The Crucifixion" triptych (below). In fact, pulling that image up, and comparing to what I was able to create, I am 80% sure that something like my technique is at play. Note the wrinkling of the veil both around the base of the foundation, but also over the top. The horizontal width of the veil in comparison to her shoulder width. The oddness of the draping at the back- something like a fold, rather than a free-flowing hemmed edge.

Detail from "The Crucifixion" (triptych) by Rogier van der Weyden, 1445.
Some examples found in the more allegorical or biblical scenes painted by the early Flemish masters, such as "The Nativity" by Robert Campin, 1420, (detail below), give the very clear impression that some veiled styles used a single veil worked in more than one direction to create a head covering. In the example below, the midwife's assistant, Salome (an Apocryphal inclusion to the nativity story), wears what appears to be a large veil pinned into place from the back around the foundation pieces, then hiked up (rather than flipped all the way back over like mine) to cover the top in messy folds. The bottom of the veil still drapes at the back. If I had a long enough veil, I think this one would be fun to attempt.
Detail from "The Nativity", Robert Campin, 1420
Additionally, there are a handful of examples in Des cleres et nobles femmes (BL MS Royal 20 C V, after 1403), including this one below (sorry about the quality), that show layers of draping between the dog ear corners and the back, consistent with what this method produces. The veil size here is smaller than what I show in the video.

Detail from BL MS Royal 20 C V, fol. 135v.
There's also an example from Thebais and Achilles (BL MS Burney 257, circa 1405.) below with a soft draping across the forehead, between the horns, in keeping with what I'm achieving. The fact that these more curved drapes were being depicted gives hope for the plausibility of this kind of recreation technique.

Detail from BL MS Burney 257, fol. 87v.
As always, I encourage you to not just take my word for it. Experiment on your own with what you have and keep an eye out in the period record for examples to emulate. And, above all, have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but had no idea what I needed for a starting base. Will be attempting this for upcoming event!