Leyden Variations – V Neck

This variation is interesting because of the variety of women that are depicted wearing it. Van Leyden uses it for the Virgin (3 images), classical/biblical figures (2 images), and “ordinary” women (2 images): a beggar and a woman out for a stroll with her beau.

This leads me to some interesting conclusions. If we ignore the two classical/allegorical figures then it could be argued that the V-neck is a viable style, albeit one that was worn by the poor. As the Virgin was supposed to be humble it might be appropriate to clothe her this way. This is borne out by the variety of illuminations showing women wearing dresses of thsi style that have come to light since I first published this page. You can find many more examples on my pinterest board.

Some notes on the two “ordinary” women:

The length of the headwear of the woman in “The promenade” is unique . There are many styles which have the face shape, but this is the only one I have seen with the long, pleated hood on the back. I also have a thing for her sleeves. They remind me of the sleeves worn by Anna Meyer in the painting of the Meyer family by Holbein. A lovely example of the Leyden style bodice with Germanic sleeves.

The woman from “The beggars” is interesting for her cap. It is entirely possible that this was worn by most women and she is the only one that has been shown wearing it. Or it is an item of the poor. With out more evidence it is hard to tell, but worth remembering for future costuming problems.