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Pre-Raphaelite painting in the details on the outfits and armor (part 1)

Pre-Raphaelites in their works often turned to the theme of the middle Ages and the early Renaissance — artists were attracted by the beautiful subjects of ancient stories and legends, described in them the sublime relationships and exploits of brave knights for the sake of beautiful ladies. But the visual range of their paintings is often closer to” fantasy ” than to the realities of distant times. What on the canvases corresponds to the reality of the past, and what-not, we learned from historical reenactors, showing them the famous paintings of artists.
Ekaterina Lyashenko
Reenactor with 11 years of experience. Since 2008 she has been engaged in historical dances, in 2010 she created the Studio of historical costume RoyalTailor.

Ekaterina and Sergey are participants of living history festivals, reconstructions of jousting tournaments, dance events, covering the time period from the middle Ages to the beginning of the XX century.

Sergei Gunkov
Engaged in historical reconstruction since 2015. In 2013, he left his job in IT and started creating armor. In 2018, he retrained and became a carpenter, producing historical furnishings and household items. He founded the Woodandvil project, specializing in the recreation of antique Handicrafts and furniture. He is fond of historical European dueling fencing.

Why is the pre-Raphaelite middle Ages ” not real?”
The paintings of the pre-Raphaelites can be studied except that the romanticized vision of the past that existed in the XIX century, but as sources for its study and reconstruction they can not be used. Some of the masters simply did not strive for historical accuracy, and someone made conscious mistakes in favor of aesthetics. In General, their paintings are characterized by common errors:
* anachronisms: clothing, armor and furnishings are taken from different decades and even centuries;
* image of the only just the most romantic, beautiful and pathos: precisely for this reason pre — Raphaelites painted, mostly, the most visually attractive armor — of the late XV-starters XVI centuries. And if the knight’s vestments and ancient architecture were preserved quite well, it is quite different with medieval clothing — it was not as attractive as the artists would like. So the medieval costumes in the paintings of more “fancy»;
* embellishment: for greater attractiveness, the artists supplemented what they saw in historical sources with a lot of decorative elements — for example, if we talk about dresses, it is lining, embroidery, braid, patterns.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
Wedding of St. George and Princess Sabra
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
1857, 36.5×36.5 cm
About the differences of the costumes and armor in different countries
– The fashion of the Middle ages can not be judged on the basis of the modern map of Europe: in different periods of the country, people, regions changed, fragmented and United, so that the elements of clothing, accessories, hats were different. And the tone was set by climatic and territorial features, but not the formal border between the two countries. These differences become more noticeable by the XV-XVI centuries.

— Armour at different periods in different regions of Europe could be different, there was also a fashion for them. The most noticeable difference begins in the XV century, when the European schools of armor are divided into two-the Italian and German schools.
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Frederic William Burton “Hallila and Hildebrand: the meeting on the turret stairs»
The picture “Meeting on the tower steps” was written by Frederick William Burton under the influence of the poem of his friend-the famous celtologist Whitley Stokes. It, in turn, was based on an old Danish ballad. The drawing, painted in watercolor, captures the scene of the last tete – a-tete meeting of the legendary Scandinavian Princess Hillelila and her lover — the English Prince Hildebrand, according to the plot of the ballad, who served as her bodyguard, and then became her lover and fell in battle with her father and brothers.
Frederick William Burton. Hallila and Hildebrand: the meeting on the turret stairs
Hallila and Hildebrand: the meeting on the turret stairs
Frederick William Burton
1864, 95.5 x 60.8 cm
– “Hallelulah and Hildebrand: the meeting on the turret stairs” is a good example of working with a medieval story: a minimum of comments. So, outfit Hillary and armor Hildebrand taken from different centuries: a dress similar to the originals the beginning of the XII century, and the armour of IX—X centuries, in addition, they are a bit embellished, but a sword later.

— Dress Gallelli lined with a thin fur is a winter version of the outfit. Could there be a fabric of such a deep blue color-it is impossible to say for sure, because the originals of clothing is not preserved, and the colors on the medieval visual sources changed over time. In addition, different pigments were used to paint the canvas and create paintings. If we talk about the hair-the whole braids at the time were the most common way of styling hair. All traced little things in the picture – a vision of the author.
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Hairstyles Of The Middle Ages
On Hildebrand-the typical full chain mail the armor early’s dark Medieval, characteristic for X—XII centuries, such wore until the early Crusades hikes. In this job, I’m confused by a few things: a helmet, a sword, and shoes.
On the helmet you can see the bronze nanonic, which was characteristic of the jarls (nobility), or simply the rich men. In General, this is not a mistake: the author, most likely, wanted to show a fairly simple vestment, but with elements of high-quality decor. Although it was logical to draw a more simple option, something like a helmet from Gjermundbu.
And about the sword: its hilt, embossed leather and repeated patterns on it, rather, correspond to a later period. In addition, the Romanesque type of sword is depicted, and in the picture it would be appropriate to depict the Carolingian.
And finally, the knight in the picture is sharp-nosed bullet, which became fashionable closer to the XIV century, and before that were common round-nosed”

Romanesque sword of king Sancho IV of Castile

Helmet of Gjermundbu, the end of IX — beginning of X century

Swords of the Carolingian type

Romanesque sword of king Sancho IV of Castile

Helmet of Gjermundbu, the end of IX — beginning of X century
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John William Waterhouse ” Tristan and Isolde with potion»
The painting “Tristan and Isolde with a potion” is written based on the popular legend of unhappy love in the Middle ages-a story that came to Europe in Celtic design. In the story, Isolde was to marry king Mark-the feudal Lord, who obeyed Tristan, but on the way to his possession, the young people accidentally drink a magic potion and fall in love with each other. This is the moment captured on the canvas of Waterhouse.
John William Waterhouse. Tristan and Isolde with the potion
Tristan and Isolde with the potion
John William Waterhouse
1916, 109.2×81.3 cm
“Tristan is wearing the second half of the fifteenth century, the full chain mail of the German school. I must say that the pre-Raphaelites loved to draw the German armor on their other paintings almost never occurs.

Medieval armor the wizard of Lorenz Hellsmith. Photo By Sergei Gunkov

Medieval armor the wizard of Lorenz Hellsmith. Photo By Sergei Gunkov

Medieval armor the wizard of Lorenz Hellsmith. Photo By Sergei Gunkov

Medieval armor the wizard of Lorenz Hellsmith. Photo By Sergei Gunkov
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– Clothes Isolde “lags” from the vestments of Tristan – his armor correspond to the second half of the XV century, and the outfit that we see on the girl, wore in the late XIII and to the middle of the XIV century. It’s pretty holistic: we see the bottom of the dress (it’s Scott or a later version of kotardi, I don’t know, as it is not visible), on top of it — bespoke surcoat trimmed with ermine, which is a sign of ceremonial clothes ladies high status, and he is wearing the cloak to the floor — though I have never met such mounting options as his, Yes, they are usually not decorated in this way.
On the head of Isolde veil under the name “Vale”, however, it should be attached to braided hair, a strip of cloth or a cap.

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“Isolde’s dresses” on medieval miniatures
John William Waterhouse “”I am haunted by shadows,” said The lady of Shallots»
The title of Waterhouse’s work quotes a line from Alfred Tennyson’s poem The witch of Shallot (in Balmont’s famous translation it sounds a little different: “Oh, I’m from ghosts-sick!”, — grieved Shallot”, it is also possible the spelling of the name “shallotte”). The creation of this work Tennyson was inspired by the legend of the Arthurian cycle, but in his performance it was revised and gained a new meaning: now the emphasis was shifted to the forced imprisonment of a beautiful girl in a castle, from the window of which she can not even look out because of the mysterious spell imposed on her. All her life she has seen the world only through the mirror, standing beside her, but one day broke down and looked out the window galloping past the Lancelot that led to her death. Waterhouse referred three times to different points in the poem.

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