5165 bassenge leyden

Abraham repudiates Hagar, Lucas van Leyden, 1516 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in July 2004 I borrowed a book from the University of Sydney which claimed to be the complete catalogue of Lucas van Leyden‘s engravings. These engravings show a variety of dresses, including some bodice styles that are variations on the square-neck that is the most common. Since I pulled these images together we’ve gained access to many more sources in the form of scanned books of illuminations, so if you’re looking to get a wider sample of a style then it might now be possible.

Given that many of these images depict biblical scenes it’s possible the bodice style in question is allegorical. If you are going to recreate any of these styles for historical costuming then consider whether a style has more biblical or more everyday pictures as their source.

Whilst he was born in Leiden, van Leyden did most of his work in Antwerp, and was influenced by the work of Durer, so these styles are probably appropriate for anywhere in North Holland. Some of these bodices are similar to some German styles of the time, particularly the housebook styles which Myra has documented on her site, Costume in the Early German Renaissance, 1470-1520. This may be evidence of the beginnings of German influence in the Low Countries following the advent of the Hapsburgs as rulers of the area, or it could be evidence of Lucas’ interest in Durer’s style.

I have pulled out relevant details from the engravings, and grouped them by style, so you can get a sense of each of the variations. Dates are included for comparison and as a guide to the development of each style.

I’m happy to discuss any of my conclusions by email, or to provide you with the full image if that will be helpful for costume research.

There are 4 styles shown in this section:

  1. V Neck
  2. High Front
  3. German Style
  4. Under bust