Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Medieval clothing from Vienna part 2

Continuing the story of the medieval clothing in Vienna, the next 'museum' to visit was the Stephansdom. This cathedral has some special rooms containing the treasury of the church, for a large part paintings of the 14th century. While most of the saints wear old-fashioned gowns, some images show the 'normal' close fitting 14th century dress.

The blessed Virgin with Jesus and a pea flower. Westphalian, end of the 14th century.

North Italian triptych. First quarter of the 14th century. Though quite small in this photo, the soldiers wear the costumes of this time period.

 A cycle of seven panel paintings around 1420. (1) The passing of Maria, with the apostles present. (Reputedly St. Thomas was not present at Maria's death, but instead was the only one to see her ascend into heaven - with the presentation of Maria's girdle to him by an angel)

(2) St. Catharina with her attribute the wheel and St. Barbara with the three windowed tower. (3) Saint Andrew with the cross and St. Eligius with the bishop staff and church building.

(4) Possibly St. Mary Magdalene with the jar of spikenard and St. Ursula with the arrow. (5) St. Agnes with a lamb and possibly St. Margareth with the dragon/devil.

 (6) This is Saint Thomas with his spear. Next to St. Thomas is an unknown bishop saint with his fingers pierced by sharp needles.

The next seven images are a cyclus of seven panel paintings from around 1390. (1) This panel contains the Holy Family visited by the three three magi (Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior). It happened that Saint Thomas later encountered Balthasar during his travels in India and had him baptised.

(2)  St. Ursula and the slaying of the virgins. The knight in front is wearing a fashionable knightly belt low on the hips. (3) A man with the child Jesus on his neck, and a saint with a chalice.
(4) St. George spearing the dragon and possible St. Magdalene (see also one of the previous panels). (5) Saint Mary with the child Jesus. Mary is wearing a cotehardie.

(6)  The annunciation, an angel visiting Mary. (7) St. Catherine with a wheel, St. Barbara with the tower and one with a palm branch.

  The Saint Andrew triptych. Painted around 1430.

Another museum with late 14th / early 15th century clothing is the Neidhart Frescos. These frescos were discovered in a house (Tuchlauben 19) that once belonged to the medieval cloth merchant Michel Menschein. In about 1407, he commissioned a series of four murals for his private dance-hall based on the (scandalous) songs by the legendary bard (Minnesänger) Neidhart von Reuenthal. Each fresco depicts scenes from one of the four seasons of the year. The different scenes are depicted against a dark coloured background, typical for the period around 1400, against which the light and bright colours stand out very well. Most of the figures wear stylish clothing of the end of the 14th, start of the 15th century. As I did not take photos here, the different scenes are from other internet sources and scanned from the guidebook.

Summer. On the left, a ball game depicted; in the middle some lovers and on the right a scene called 'the theft of the mirror', which suspiciously looks like a rape scene.

 Winter. a snowball fight and sledge ride.

Spring. The peasant brawl, with caricature peasant versions of knights.

Spring. The castle and men emerging from it: the so-called 'violet prank', where Neidhart finds the first violet in spring and covers it with his hat. He then calls the duchess to see the flower, but meanwhile a peasant has put this hat over a piece of dung.

Spring with the dancing scene and Autumn with a banquet by the fire; a table can be seen on the right.

Part 3 of medieval clothing from Vienna will show some real extant medieval pieces of clothing.


  1. I am enjoying these pictures you are sharing.

    I believe your man carrying a child, is St Christopher, who is said to have helped s child to cross a raging river. Though the child was light when he picked him up, and Christopher was a very large man, as he got deeper in the water the child became heavier, to the point Christopher could scarcely carry him anymore. He said to the child that it seemed as if he were carrying the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. At this pint the child answered him and said that in fact he was, because he (the child) was The Christ. Christopher is usually pictured as a large man,carrying a child and leaning on a staff, an emblem signifying the difficulty which Christopher had in bearing Christ.
    (see here,

  2. Thank you for sharing! I found special interest in the "Bishop" accompanying saint Thomas. The caracteristic yet somewhat small shoemaker's awls piercing his fingers resemble thos shown on the “Two scenes with Sts Crispinus and Crispinianus” ca 1500-10), presented by Marc Carlson here: see also 'Awl' here: your image push back this specialized awl shape a century.

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