As I was researching my outfit based on Hendrick Avercamp’s ice skating paintings, I found myself looking at the women in the background. Many of them were dressed in a regional style from North Holland. 1
I had previously only seen this style represented in a series of paintings in the Kaasmuseum in Alkaar. Check out this Flickr photo set to see the whole series and museum replicas of the outfits. This style is occasionally referred to as the “cheese girl” after the central portrait. However, once I was looking for them, I found a number of other examples of the style. I’ve made a Pinterest board for them, of course.I had intended to get around to exploring this style at some point. But then I found out that our fellow Dutch enthusiast Aliet was planning to run an Antwerpan market at the West Kingdom’s Golden Beltane event. (Have a look at her blog post about the market, it’s great.) So now I had a deadline.
I wanted to represent this style, not just copy a single portrait, so I poured over all of my paintings to determine the most common elements. The palette, unsurprisingly, is mostly black and red. The outfit generally consists of a red underdress, with or without sleeves. Over it is a darker, open laced bodice, with or without sleeves, and with or without a skirt. Aprons are either black or white. The partlet is black and pointed in the back. Additional sleeves are pinned to the lower arms. The skirts are fairly full and often quite short to modern eyes, with plenty of dark leg showing. The partlet and lower sleeves are often decorated with metal findings. The hair is dressed in wrapped braids and often covered with elaborately folded and starched white veils.
As I was under some time constraints, I took a few shortcuts. I attached a burgundy wool skirt to an existing front laced bodice, and added a placket pinned over the lacing. I reused the back pointed partlet from my Brueghel outfit and my standard, good for everything white partlet. I made a black linen apron and a linen open laced jacket. Finally, I cut down a pair of burgundy velveteen sleeves so that they would pin on at the upper arm. (That pair of sleeves has always been too short to pin to the shoulder. Pro tip: the sleeve cap of a pin-on sleeve needs to be much taller than the sleeve cap of a set in sleeve. Be sure to adjust your pattern and save yourself the irritation.)
The hair is worn in a rather goofy style. 2 All the variations appear to start with two braids coming from the top of the head. Then the braids can be crossed and brought down on either side of the face, as seen in some of the Kaasmuseum portraits. I tried it, but it was itchy. Or the braids can be crossed and wrapped with a red band further back on the head. This was the version I chose to go with. It was very secure and created a good, square base for the hat. Unfortunately, neither of these styles created the little U shaped braids over the forehead seen in some versions. Next time I will create an additional braid to form the “U”.
The veil also varies widely. 3 Some are rather limp, and others appear to be heavily starched. Most of them are pretty flat across the top. Some stick out at chin level, others at the temple, and some not at all. So with that much variety, I figured I could achieve the look as long as I kept the top squared off. I started with a plain rectangle of fabric and starched it with commercial Stay-Flo starch, rather than the stiff wheat starch I usually cook up at home. I thought that would keep it flexible enough to work with. I was wrong, but I did eventually beat the uncooperative kite into submission. In the future I will water the Stay-Flo down. Still, it looked enough like the pictures that I was fairly happy with it. It also maintained shape through a light mist of rain.
Many thanks again to Aleit having the vision to create the Antwerpan Marketplace and allowing me to crash in from Noord Holland. I had a ton of fun pretending to sell vegetables, and it provided a gorgeous setting for photos. 4