My University’s library has a copy of the diary that Albrecht Durer wrote during his trip to the Netherlands in 1521.

While it is an interesting read, one of the most interesting things in the book for me are some of the images that he drew in his diary at the time. The diary has since been pulled apart and the book that I borrowed is an attempt to reconstruct it. It claims that the only known extant page from Durer’s diary is the following image showing patterns of Netherlandish dress with annotations:

pattern from Durer's diary


I am guessing that this is either the pattern for a skirt or a cloak, which has been the consensus from other people I have shown this image to.

Unfortunately I cannot read German and can’t actually make out any words in Durer’s scrawl. If there is anyone that can translate this page, or even a few words for me I would be very grateful.

Update: 17 September 2004: Katherine Barich (who translated the Textilier Hausrat) has been kind enough to attempt to translate the writing. Here’s what she wrote me:

“On the top piece, the writing on the two edges are measurements. I think this is a layout of half of the garment – otherwise it doesn’t make sense. The right hand side might say 1 pfuss (?) lang and the top edge 3 pfuss (?) 3 so lang. The words in the circle may say: das hoike ligt man knopf(?) janober(?) the hoik lays over the top of one’s head. The verbage below may read in part: Das ist ______ ein hoik kirchliches (?) frauen mantel This is pattern (? from context) of a hoik, a church worn lady’s cloak. It appears that the cloak set back further on the head, and that the front edge flipped back over. I deduce this from the straightish edge at the bottom of the front part of the cloak.”

“I can’t tell if the circles are meant to be cut out or are just a representation of where the head sits. Perhaps I can make out more on the second semi-circular pattern. “

“All translations are really tentative until I can convince myself that I really see these things, or believe I am :-)”

For the moment this is enough for me, at least I have an idea of what the pattern is. This also suggests that after the current spate of projects and research I’ll need to look into these hoiks that were worn by Netherlandish women.

Dürer, Albrecht, 1471-1528, “Sketchbook of his journey to the Netherlands, 1520-21 : with extracts from his Diary”. Commentary by Phillip Troutman. Elek Publishers, London 1971. ISBN: 0 236 154 281