Friday, July 25, 2014

Strictly SCA... Part II - Chatelaine as a Greater Office

This post is outside the realm of German Renaissance Research, therefore, if you are only reading these posts for German research, you may safely ignore the following.  This is strictly a mental outpouring over a discussion held recently in my own home group.

There was a concern brought up recently in my home group that installing Chatelaine as a Greater Office was going to meet with problems at the Kingdom level.  Whether this is the case or not, I wanted to determine if the general practice for the Chatelaine (with or without an ending "E") or Hospitaler (with or without double "L") office was to be a Greater or Lesser office in all of the Kingdoms.

The following is what I have been able to determine from the Kingdom laws of the various Kingdoms with August 2013 membership numbers in brackets and the Kingdoms ordered by those membership numbers:  [I was going to add per capita population statistics as well, but it became burdensome.]

Middle - Lesser Office (Chatelain(e)) [3345]
East - Greater Office (Chatelaine) [3316]
An Tir - Greater Office (Chatelaine) [3149]
Atlantia - Greater Office (Chatelain) [2400]
Aethemearc - Greater Office (Chatelaine) [1653]
Caid - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [1641]
Meridies - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [1581]
Ansteorra - Greater Office (Hospitaler) [1513]
Lochac - Lesser Office (Hospitaller) [1436]
Outlands - Lesser Office (Chatelain(e)) [1389]
West - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [1306]
Atenveldt - Lesser Officer (Chatelain) [1241]
Calontir - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [1126]
Trimaris - Greater Office (Hospitaller) [1052]
Northshield - Lesser Office (Chatelain(e)) [906]
Gleann Abhann - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [880]
Artemisia - Lesser Office (Chatelain) [798]
Ealdormere -Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [584]
Drachenwald - Lesser Office (Chatelaine) [368]


Quick Summary: 6 of the Kingdoms have the Chatelain(e) as a Greater officer, while the majority (13 Kingdoms) do not.  It also appears that the majority of the kingdoms with Greater Office Chatelain(e)s have a higher overall population with the exception of the Midrealm.  I have no data about when the Chatelain(e) offices became Greater Officers in these Kingdoms or what their population numbers were like before that point.

Since this is not a strong area for me, I can only speculate concerning the importance, or perhaps lack thereof, of this eminently future decision and, unfortunately, none of that speculation is positive, so I will simply leave this with the data.

Personally, I don't believe it matters one way or the other whether Chatelain(e) is a Greater or Lesser office.  The job is still everyone's responsibility, regardless of whether someone is in the office or not.

Friday, July 18, 2014

German Artists of Bavaria

My specific research centers on the Bavarian areas of Germany, therefore I wanted to pull together a preliminary grouping of the artists from that area roughly from 1460-1520.  This will be updated over time.

Artists of Bavaria

Augsburg --
  • Hans Holbein the Elder was in Augsburg from at least 1494 until 1516 when he was declared a tax defaulter in Augsburg and started accepting commissions in other areas, though his name continued to be listed in the Augsburg guild books until around 1524.
  • Daniel Hopfer aquired citizenship in Augsburg in 1493 until his death in 1536.
  • Caspar Schongauer, father to Martin Schongauer of Colmar, was a goldsmith in Augsburg, though uncertain of when.

Fridolfing --
  • Master of the Fridolfing Altar of whom very little is known, but he was active at least from 1485-95.

Laufen --

  • Master of the Laufener Hochaltars, or Master of the Laufen Altarpiece, is an artist about which very little is known.

Munich --
  • Erasmus Grasser is best known for woodwork found in three Munich cathedrals all produced from 1480-1506.
  • Gabriel Mälesskircher was in Munich from at least 1461 and is supposed to have died in Southern Bavaria around 1495, though the exactly location is uncertain.

Nuremberg --
  • Albrecht Dürer was apprenticed to Michael Wolgemut in Nuremburg, 1486, traveled to Colmar, Alsace and Basel, 1492, to Strasbourg, Alsace, 1493, returned to Nuremburg for his wedding in 1494, only to travel to Italy, 1494-1495, returned again to Nuremburg, 1495-1505  until his death 1528
  • Hieronymus Hopfer, son of Daniel Hopfer, born in Augsburg c. 1500, but moved to Nuremberg c. 1529 until his death in 1563.
  • Anton Koberger, the German goldsmith, printer and publisher who printed and published the "Nuremberg Chronicle" and established his first printing house in Nuremberg in 1470. He was also the godfather of Albrecht Dürer.
  • Adam Kraft, a German stone sculptor and master builder based in Nuremberg from 1490.
  • Hans Pleydenwurff, probable son of Kunz Pleydenwurff, lived in Nuremberg from 1457 until his death in 1472. 
  • Michael Wolgemut married Hans Pleydenwurff's widow in 1472, took over and ran Hans' workshop and taught Albrecht Dürer.


Passau --
  • Rueland Frueauf the Younger moved to Passau where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.  He lived from approximated 1470 until after 1545.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Strictly SCA... Part I - Membership Numbers

This post is outside the realm of German Renaissance Research, therefore, if you are only reading these posts for German research, you may safely ignore the following.  This is strictly a mental outpouring over a discussion held recently in my own home group.

Recently there has been some discussion over recruitment and retention, at least locally, meaning in our Kingdom and Shire.  What appears to be coming down the wire is that we're losing members left and right and that we're not gaining members to replace them.  This may be an over-simplification on my part and I could very well have misunderstood some of what was said.  In any case, while these dire warnings motivated me to consider other avenues of recruitment and retention, they may not have done the same for other members in our group.  In fact, these comments may have come across as somewhat bleak and disheartening to newer members.  Since I am in the habit of questioning just about everything, which I will freely admit can be both a good and bad habit, I realized a few days after the meeting that perhaps I needed to do some research into these dire predictions concerning the SCA's future.

Data used in this post is from the SCA Corporate Treasurer's page, which lists membership numbers from 1992 through August 2013.  The following is a list of overall average membership numbers by year:


1992 - 21,129        2003 - 27,863
1993 - 22,366        2004 - 31,770
1994 - 25,413        2005 - 32,329
1995 - 25,017        2006 - 32,742
1996 - 24,239        2007 - 32,668
1997 - 23,789        2008 - 31,992
1998 - 23,832        2009 - 31,344
1999 - 23,802        2010 - 31,288
2000 - 24,400        2011 - 30,272
2001 - 24,988        2012 - 28,950
2002 - 25,066        2013 - 29,684


If you compare 1992 to 2013, the SCA has grown by over 8,500 memberships [21129 vs. 29684] in a 21 year period.  This appears to be an overall growth, not a decline, but this can be seen as too simple of a comparison.

The highest membership numbers are from 2006 at 32,742 (with 2007 not far behind it at 32,668), which would put our greatest overall growth at 11,613.  After 2007, the numbers consistently decline overall by nearly 4000 members until 2013 when they show a modest incline of just over 700 members.  While this consistent decline can be seen as a problem, I don't believe it actually is.  It seems to be forgotten that the World economy took a hit in 2008 and, while we would like instantaneous recovery, realistically it takes time for individual monetary trust to rebuild.

Other interesting data to note about the numbers provided is that between 2006 and 2012 [specific numbers are not available for 2013], International membership [IM] went down 154 members from 1287 to 1133.[*]  While this appears to be a modest number, IM was not at its peak in 2006, but in 2001 at 1,718.  Using that number, IM has gone down 585 members in 11 years or by roughly a third.  Taking the other membership types into consideration from 2006-2012, Sustaining memberships [SM] dropped from 16305 to 13460 or by 2,865, Associate memberships [AM] increased from 2527 to 3354 or by 827 and Family memberships [FM] dropped from 12623 to 11003 or by 1,620.


There are plenty of reasons why these number look the way they do, but most of the reasons are speculation at best.  For instance, a good number of the SMs were likely transferred to AMs to save on costs.  Other memberships were likely dropped due to a lack of perceived benefit for a member's membership money, especially when they had more important real life costs with which to deal.  While another avenue of speculation would say that the SCA is not as family friendly as it could be, therefore families find other entertainment for their children and, thus, themselves.  There is also the good ole standby of, the SCA is simply too expensive for the groups of people it used to attract, such as college students and there are other cheaper hobbies people can enjoy.

Let's take my personal situation to bear on this one.  During the early economic issue years, we were unable to maintain memberships, but since we stopped going to most events during that time due to various costs, it wasn't really an issue.  Also, our Kingdom is not "Pay to Play," so it was irrelevant.  Currently, while both my husband and I are members, we split our membership between Sustaining and Family to cover my overall family group.  Neither my husband nor I are currently officers.  We do not go to as many events as we would prefer.  In fact, we go to so few events that the benefit of having a membership to defray non-member surcharge [NMS] costs doesn't even apply.  We have memberships to 'have memberships,' plain and simple.  My family could be an exception to the rule for all I know, but those are our circumstances.

In any case, using the numbers provided, while the SCA numbers do not look the best, they are definitely better in the long run than how it is being represented as a whole, nor do I feel that the numbers are as dire as they are being represented.  This is not an indication that I believe nothing should be done.  Retention and recruitment are a constant need in any membership-driven organization, but doom and gloom is not a proper motivator.

---- 
[*] There is one difficulty I have with the data concerning IMs.  The 2013 data (up through August) shows membership numbers broken down by Kingdom, whereas the other years do not.  The average numbers for Lochac and Drachewald for 2013 show 1804 memberships between them (1436 for Lochac and 368 for Drachenwald).  Either there was a significant increase in membership in 2013, or obviously I am not privy to how the Corporate Office came up with the numbers they are using for IMs in every other year.  Perhaps the family side of IMs are not split from the overall FM numbers.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bags, Purses and Pockets [Drawstring or Otherwise]


There are so many different types of bags to be found in the Middle Ages and all over Europe that I wanted to showcase a sampling to get the mental creative juices flowing.

Drawstring

Let's start with some drawstring bags.  It appears as if most drawstring bags that I can find started as reliquary bags.  These bags tended to be embroidered, beaded and couched rather extravagantly the later you go into period and they also appear to have been primarily square.

Reliquary is a container used for relics of various holy personages.  These relics are generally seen as the physical remains of saints or other religious figures, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with a particular religious figure.

Reliquary Bag with Plaques and Pearls (11th Century German) - Fabric drawstring bag with embroidery and couching, front view.


A 13th Century Continental Reliquary Bag from Belgium


14th century Germanic Reliquary Bags - Viewing the pieces on this page, are they all reliquary bags?  I don't have enough knowledge on the differences or if there were differences between what was used for relics and what may have been for everyday usage.

Codex Manesse, 64r (circa 1304-1340)

14th century Reliquary bag of silk (with finger-woven? trim) from Cologne (Köln)


The Adoration of the Magi by an Unknown German Master, c. 1420

Herman, Pewtler (Beutler) [pouch maker], from Mendel Housebook, c. 1425


Circumcision from 'Liber Chronicarum' by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514) (woodcut with later period coloration)

Detail from Luna (Moon) and Her Children by Meister Hausbuch (c1475-85), bag at austringer's waist (falconer)

Detail from Jupiter and His Children by Meister Hausbuch (c1475-85), unique bag at one of the crossbowmen's hips, center scene



Thus far I am unconvinced that drawstring bags were only used for relics.  Relic bags, because of their intention alone, make them more likely to survive over a long period of time, whereas daily use bags would have worn out a lot faster and would most likely not have been embroidered or beaded very heavily.  It is also possible that modern historians see drawstring bags from the Germanic regions and automatically define them as reliquary.  How do you actually tell the difference between a reliquary bag and a bag for everyday use?


Pocket (Tasche)

14th century Pocket, linen, silk and gold (Tasch, Leinen, Seide und Goldlahn) from Cologne (Köln)


Purses (Bursa)

14th century Silk Purse (Seidenbursa) from Cologne (Köln)

Girdle Pouches

Grabmal von Johann und Gudula von Holzhausen (St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, epitaph), c. 1370


Leather purse on Joseph's hip by Master Bertram, St Peter (Grabow) Altarpiece: Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1379-83, Kunsthalle, Hamburg


The so-called Ulmer altar - The Betrothal of Mary, c 1400


Detail from Jupiter and His Children by Meister Hausbuch (c1475-85), lower right scene


Sabretache (Säbeltasche)

A flat bag or pouch, which was worn suspended from the belt of a hussar cavalry soldier together with the sabre.  This appears to have been primarily Hungarian in origin, but dates to at least the 10th century.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Banners

According to The Medieval Classroom,
The banner, the most common of all the medieval flags and banners, was a personal flag of nobility and knighthood, usually fixed to a traverse bar painted or embroidered with arms of its bearer, its size denoting rank in a proportional manner. Here, follows the rankings prescribed: Emperor- six feet square, King- five feet square, Prince or Duke- four feet square, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, or Baron- three feet square, Baronet to knight bachelor- two feet square or less (Richard; ND). Banners were generally made up on a stiff or rigid foundation to prevent flapping. They were decorated with a gold or coloured fringe all around the edge (Norris; 1066-1485).  It was common to carry the banner fixed to a spear. Banners were also attached to long trumpets and were blazoned with the arms of the lord who employed the trumpeters (Norris; 1066-1485). Truly authentic banners were made by authentic materials, ideally wool, linen or silk and hand sewn (Silverlock; ND).
I found this information to be interesting to say the least.  I had never considered that the size of the banner mattered on the field, but obviously it did and in many ways still does, or should for practical authenticity.  Everything has a significance.  Also, the fact that banners were rigid and not free-flowing...  Again, I had never considered this aspect to banner construction, but it makes sense considering that identification on the field was imperative in the heat of battle.  The more rigid the cloth, the easier the identification.

A little further down the page, The Medieval Classroom goes on to describe the fabric and techniques used:
The above flags and banners where decorated with unique custom and hand crafted designs. Various methods were used to make a unique banner. Fabric paint was used and a fabric pen was incorporated to sketch the outline of the design.  The paint was then used to colour in the chosen design. Oil paints were utilised also. Appliqué was another decoration method, where the design was cut out on another fabric and either sewn or glued on to the banner. Embroidery was easy when used with thick wool or cotton thread. The design was outlined in a chain stitch. Solid satin stitch also worked well and created a well presented banner. However, embroidery took at least a month to complete (Silverlock; ND).
These would all be viable methods for general period banner construction, but are not specific enough for my area of research.  So I wanted to find visual representations and I came up with the following:

Codex Manesse, Fol 184v


Visual examples are definitely helpful, but, sadly, they are not proof that these rigid banners existed in my area of study.  Regardless though, they are close enough proof for my uses.

While searching for more examples, I ran across a blog entry for another groups method for creating silk banners, which appears to follow aspects of Cennini's instructions, which I quoted in a previous post.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Medieval Women and Underwear (Unterhosen)

This is a much debated subject and most representations I've seen of women shown wearing what we today consider underwear are few and far between.

There are the Roman "bikini" women and a few representations of other women wearing underwear, which admittedly are up for debate due to the context of the artwork, eg. Women wearing the 'pants' in the family or women shown wearing underwear that were very dominant or domineering and the idea was that they wore it to be seen 'as a man'.

In any case, I'm not actually debating what has already been presented on this subject yet again, but to add another image or two which I found recently that I have either never seen used (or used very rarely) with the argument "for" women wearing A-typical underwear.  There are a couple of possible issues with both of them, but let's start with the first image.

Baptism of the pagan virgins by Pope Cyriacus in Rome, 1459, Lower Austria, Unknown Artist

These women are clearly wearing something below their waists.  Now, for the possible issues.

As the title implies, this is a baptism of Pagan virgins.  Did these Pagans wear what would be considered underwear when it is assumed or implied by historians that their counterparts did not?  Could the wearing of underwear in the context of a baptism at this point in history be normal and they were not worn otherwise?  Or is it just possible that at this point in history women did wear underwear and a extant example has simply not been found?

Fountain of Youth, ~1411-16, Maestro del Castello della Manta

While this image is decidedly Italian, the underwear debate covers the entire continent, therefore, I chose to include this image in this post.

There is a female in the left foreground who is wearing a very sheer chemise and beneath it can be seen the outline of underwear.  As with the other image, the question for this piece derives from the subject matter.  This image is depicting a fantasy and not a real situation, therefore, is the underwear supposed to also be a fantasy?

So many questions...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Taking Apart Images 13 - Women's Bath, 1496, by Albrecht Dürer

It's been a long time in coming, but after I noticed the hairbrush in my last post, Albrecht Altdorfer's Susanna in Her Bath, I realized there was another representation of a hairbrush like it in Albrecht Dürer's The Women's Bath, so I determined I may as well take this image apart and analyze the finer details, but I realized by the time I was done I had more questions than conclusions.


The Women's Bath, 1496, Albrecht Dürer

I will freely admit there are a few items in this drawing which I have no idea how to identify.  For instance, what exactly is the item the woman at the back right is using?


And what type of jug is this next item?  It's very sizeable and wouldn't likely have been easy to move if it were full of water, so how was it used exactly?


And last but not least is this bucket.  It's short, intentionally.  What this the only use for it, a bath?  Or was it used in other areas of life as well?


Headdress

Originally when I viewed this image, I dismissed this headdress as the typical head-covering for the period, but upon closer inspection, it appears to be a knit or woven piece of material similar to what was worn by one of the men in the Men's Bath also by Dürer, although this one is obviously covering a woman's hair which is likely still in braids.  I could be entirely mistaken and this is the normal headdress, but I am not completely certain at this point.





Hairbrush - Rounded

If I hadn't seen this being used in Susanna in Her Bath by Albrecht Altdorfer, I don't know that I would have been able to identify it as a hairbrush.  It reminds me of male facial brushes or shaving brushes.  How were these made?  In a similar manner?  Many of the modern shaving brushes are made of boar bristles.



Hairbrush - Elongated

This reminds me of a scrubbing brush.




Luffa or Loofah

I was somewhat surprised to see a period luffa or loofah in this image, but come to find out, luffa have been used as sponges for a very long time.  How long, I am uncertain, but I'd never seen this in this image prior to now.  It's so strange the things you find in a drawing when you really start to look at it, especially something as modern as this.




Colander

What was the purpose of the item which resembles a colander?  Would it have been used similar to a shower especially in this context?  This deserves further investigation.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Another pair of Mules, among other things...

Found another mule in a period painting, though it is difficult to see in the full-sized painting, so a detail is shown below it.  While I was only going to post this for the mules, I started looking more carefully and found a couple of other treasures.

Susanna at Her Bath, 1526, Albrecht Altdorfer

Susanna at Her Bath Detail

Towels

It never occurred to me before now, but this painting has one of the few representations for a towel actually in the image.  It's draped over Susanna's shoulders while her hair is being brushed.  It also appears as if the lady filling Susanna's foot bath with water has a towel draped over her shoulder and laying in her lap.  While the towel around Susanna's shoulders appears somewhat plain, that is only because her hair and body obscures most of it.  The towel on the servants shoulder appears to indicate blue stitch work at one end, which would indicate that they were not plain.  Most extant towels I've been able to find are Italian, but they are not out of keeping with these in design and are all made of linen or a linen and cotton construction (most likely linen base with cotton stitching, though they could have also been linen-cotton blend, but I am uncertain of this practice in period).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Silk Screen Painting

Quite a few years ago, I posted that silk screen painting was not period for the Germanic people in my chosen time frame of study.  I ran across something interesting, which doesn't necessarily counter this view point, but it does question it.

Gail Stirler wrote an article on Advanced Techniques on Silk Banner Painting in which she includes part of a translation of Cennino d'Andrea Cennini's "Ill Libro dell' Arte" or The Craftsman's Handbook.  Cennini was an Italian painter who supposedly lived from about 1370 until about 1440, though this is somewhat questionable.  The supposition is that his work was written sometime in the 14th century.  The translated section from her article has been copied here verbatim as follows:
X.clxv: If you have to do palls or other jobs on silk, first spread them out on a stretcher as I taught you for the cloth. And, according to what the ground is, take chaboni (vine charcoal), either black or white. Do your drawing, and fix it either with ink or with tempered color; and if the same scene or figure has to be executed on both sides, put the stretcher in the sun with the drawing turned toward the sun, so that it shines through it. Stand on the reverse side. With your tempered color, with your fine minever brush, go over the shadow which you see made by the drawing. If you have to draw at night, take a large lamp on the side toward your design, and a small lamp on the side which you are drawing, this, on the right side; thus there might be a lighted taper on the side which is drawn on, and a candle on the side which you are drawing, if there is no sun. And if you have to draw by day, contrive to have light from two windows on the side with the drawing, and have the light from one little window shine on what you have to draw.
Then size with the usual size wherever you have to paint or gild; and mix a little white of egg with this size, say one white of egg to four goblets of or glasses of size. And when you have got it sized, if you want to lay any diadem or ground in burnished gold, to bring you great honor and reputation, take gesso sottile and a little Armenian bottle, ground very find together, and a little bit of sugar. Then with the usual size and a very little white of egg, mixed with a small amount of white lead, you put on two coats of it thinly wherever you wish to gild. Then apply your bole just as you apply it on panel. Then lay your gold with clear water, mixing with it a little of the tempera for the bole; and burnish it over a good smooth slab, or a good sound, smooth board. And stamp and punch it likewise over this board.
Furthermore, you may paint any subject in the usual way, tempering the colors with yolk of egg, laying the colors in six or eight times, or ten, out of regard for the varnishing; and then you may gild the diadems or grounds with oil mordants; and the embellishments with garlic mordents, varnishing afterward, but preferable with oil mordants. And let this serve for ensigns, banners and all.
This indicates to my untrained artistic brain, that the method of silk screen painting was in use during the medieval period.  I have yet to find any indication that it was used in the Germanic areas, but at least it gives a lead into the possibility of this technique, as trade between the Italians and the Germans was free and common throughout much of the middle ages.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 2, Buxtehude Altar


The Buxtehuder Altar, which has been variously dated from 1367-87 to 1400-10, appears to be a collection of 18 images.  The arrangement of 16 of those images are presented below, but the placement of the remaining 2 images is currently a mystery.  The only reference I've been able to find to these other two images comes from the 1905 book concerning Meister Bertram (SEE: Meister Bertram's Altars - Part 1, Grabow Altar) and they have not been included in this post as I was unable to find color images of them available.


Left panel
Row 1: (1) Joachim's Sacrifice, (2) Joachim among the Shepherds
Row 2: (3) Circumcision of Christ, (4) The Adoration of the Kings


Center panel:
Row 1: (5) Encounter under the Golden Gate, (6) The Birth of Mary, (7) The Annunciation of Mary, (8) The Visitation
Row 2: (9) Presentation in the Temple, (10) The Massacre of the Innocents, (11) The Flight into Egypt, (12) The Christ Child in the Temple



Right panel
Row 1: (13) The Birth of Christ, (14) The Annunciation to the Shepherds
Row 2: (15) The Visit of the Angels [or Knitting Madonna], (16) The Wedding at Cana

What I enjoy the most about these paintings are the everyday details which Meister Bertram chose to present.  There are flasks (or flasche) in 2, 13, 14 and 16; a two-pronged pitchfork? in 2 and 14; dining ware (dishes, jugs, knife, tablecloth) in 6 and 16; a workbasket in 15; knitting in the round (knit stitch only) in 15; a hunting horn in 14; a child's toy top with string in 15; and various clothing representations for nobles down to peasants and children.

I am curious about the belt the gentleman server is wearing in 16.  Could the piece attached to his belt indicate that some purses or pouches were hung from the belt in this manner instead of having loops on the pouch/purse which had a belt laced through it?  I have never seen this belt design, but in many ways, this would make sense as I have found that having a purse/pouch with a belt laced through it, while entirely secure, is cumbersome in many ways.  If nothing else, this may be another belt variation for wearing pouches, if that is truly its design intent.

[General Note: Attempting to pull together the various works of individual artists is definitely more of a challenge than it should be with our modern conveniences...]