Our venues
Our museums and galleries

Young aristocratic lady

detail from painting showing lady as described in the text

During this period of the Renaissance necklines were fairly high with no cleavage showing and the waistline sat very high, directly under the bust. The puffy pleats at the front of the dress were created by inserting small padded bags into the seams beneath the bustline; this was a very fashionable style and not a type of maternity wear which it is sometimes mistaken for. Sleeves were close-fitting and often highly decorative or made from figured fabrics. The fabric of the dress appears to be of cut or pile velvet (raised pile is cut to form a pattern) with gold brocading and boucle wefts (a decorative yarn with an irregular pattern of curls or loops) on the sleeves.

This lady is also wearing an overdress or 'giornea', trimmed with fur, possibly ermine. A giornea would be open at the front and sides to allow the fabric of the garment beneath to be visible. The giornea often had a longer hem at the back to give an elegant sweeping movement and could have detachable sleeves. It appears to have been worn mainly by younger women and tended to be a summer garment although it could be lined with fur for the winter months.

The lady’s hair line has been plucked away which is an indication that she is married.