The engravings of Lucas van Leyden contain a number of women wearing gollars over their square-necked dresses. All these gollars vary in style and decoration, however they all exhibit commons trait, they are square cut, sit under the bust line and close at the front.

These are some examples of van Leyden’s gollars:

selection from a Lucas van leyden print
selection from a Lucas van Leyden print
selection from Lucas van Leyden pint
selection from Lucas van Leyden painting

and one picture sketched by Durer during his trip to the Netherlands in 1521:

sketch of a dutch woman by Albrecht Durer

Unfortunately, except for the picture of the man wearing a gollar these engravings and sketches give us no idea of how the gollar may have been constructed and from what materials. The textilier hausrat gives an example of a sumptuary law from Nurnberg which states that: “the middle class sumptuary laws allowed for gollars fo high value material as not seen for other outer and over clothing”. Gollars made of silk and damask are then described. Although Leiden is in the Netheralnds and not near Nuremburg, in the absense of sumptuary laws from the Netherlands for this time, the laws of Nuremburg can help in our understanding of what was worn.

photo of me wearing the gollar I madeMy¬†gollar is made from a heavy felted maroon wool, lined and edged with black cotton drill. It does not have a collar and is closed by three buttons and three finger-looped cords. It most closely resembles the 1st picture. It pins at four points under my arms, which is something I have to remember to warn others of when they get a hug while I’m wearing this gollar. This is quite a secure way of attaching the gollar, assuming that the pins are inserted through the fabric properly, I have worn my gollar for long evenings and not lost a pin. I originally believed that all Leiden gollars were open at the sides, based on the 1st picture above, however after looking at the Durer sketch and considering the matter more thoroughly I cannot see why they would be open at both the side and the front, so will probably make any future gollars with side seams.

photo of how the gollar is pinned to my dress

These are two photos of my completed gollar. The image on the right shows how it is done up with pins under my arm, and also that the back and front are not exactly at the same level. This is a design fault as I think they should be approximately the same height. It is both too long in the front and too short in the back. Also I think as I put it on for these photos that it wasn’t properly adjusted so the front is lower than normal. The white dots at each corner are pearl headed pins. The important thing to remember about this is that because there is so much fabric in the bias edges the pins need to go through the wool part, or they just won’t fix to the dress properly.

Addendum, 20 August 2004:

I just took a closer look at this engraving by van Leyden, “Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden”. The Magdalen has a bow under her arm almost exactly where a tie would be placed to join the two edges of the gollar she is wearing. This should be reasonably easy to add to my gollar and will mean that I don’t have to get someone to pin me into it everytime I want to wear it.

selection from a print by Lucas van Leyden of the Magdalen


Zandel-Seidel, Jutta, “Textiler Hausrat” (trans. Katherine
Barich), available from the GermanRenCostume list at Yahoogroups