Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking Apart Images - Part 5 - The Ill-Assorted Couple by Albrecht Durer

I found one!  While going through Durer's various drawings, I found a female gurtil with the buckle on her right hip.  In Durer's "The Ill-Assorted Couple" (c1496) we find a fairly young woman with a reasonably older man.  What's interesting about this piece is that this was a common theme during this time frame.  I have found quite a few drawings or paintings that show the pitfalls of this type of personal relationship. I am unaware if the point of these pieces was to warn the older man that a young woman would abscond with his purse and make a fool of him or to warn the younger woman that she would be no better than a whore should she embark on such a scheme.  In either case, these drawings are rarely flattering to either party.  Regardless, onto the drawing...

There is much in this piece on which to comment.

First things first, her belt.  My best assumption is that this belt is made of fabric as opposed to leather.  It doesn't appear to lay as you would expect leather to do.  It doesn't appear to be much more than a half inch in width.  It has a D-shaped buckle and the purse or bag appears to be attached by a reasonable length of cording.  I have seen some drawings where the belt and purse are beneath the overdress, but it doesn't appear as if that is the general case at least in Durer's artwork.  The excess length of the belt from the buckle appears to be more than a foot and a half in length, but I've noticed that women in Durer's drawings do not appear to wear their belts very tightly around their waist as many of the men of the period do.

There is his hat on the ground.  Is this furry, like his tunic or a stylized version of a wool felt hat?

The wulsthaube on the woman must be exaggerated.  I can not come up with a feasible way that she would have worn a contraption that would have been quite so large on the back of her head.  Stability alone would be a challenge unless he is implying that she had that much hair or wore a large enough hair piece to accommodate it.  It looks like a headache waiting to happen to me.

His poulaines and pattens...  Sadly, hers are under her skirt.  The poulaines that Durer depicts appear to be of a fairly simple construction, but as I am not a cobbler, I am likely over-simplifying my assessment.  They reach to above the ankle and are tied in the front.  As I cannot see the tie on the poulaines, determining how they are latched will need to be left for another time.  The pattens appear to be tied across the knuckles of the foot.

Their respective bags...His.

... and Hers.  I believe hers is similar to the one I also found in the Nuremberg Chronicles (c1493), which follows her bag.  Also, both his and her bags seem to have similarities with the pattern used on Bettina's website.

His tunic..  Durer was very good about showing many seams on his subject's clothing.  The apex of the armscyes seam appears to be at the indentation between the acromion and the clavicle, while the shoulder seam is situated just forward of center.  Looking at modern clothing, the armscye seam on many male clothes appears to be just outside the deltoid muscle, while the shoulder seam is about the same.  I know that when I'm hot and I pull short sleeves to my shoulders, they tend to rest in the indentation between the acromion and the clavicle.  Coincidence?  Also, you can discern that he is wearing a belt due to the gathers around his waist, but the majority of it is hidden behind their arms, but what can be seen appears to be decorated.  His tunic also appears to follow fashions of an earlier generation, which would emphasize his older age.  This is seen in the Meister Hausbuch's Children of the Planets: Jupiter, which is purported to have been inked in the 1475-85 time frame.

Children of the Planets: Jupiter by Meister Hausbuch (c1475-85) - Jupiter's Tunic Detail

Her sleeve and bodice...  Are there buttons on the back of her sleeve?  They are similar to the buttons holding her bodice closed near the top of her hemd.  I think the length of the sleeve is interesting.  It would appear that her sleeve would completely cover her hand should she flatten all the bunches of material and extend the sleeve.

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