16th century, books, research

Lucas de Heere 16th c. costume illustrations

Researchers of 16th century English costume are probably familiar with Lucas de Heere’s sketch of middle and lower class London ladies (discussed here, higher resolution image here).  It’s an important source, given that de Heere is documented as having actually BEEN in England when it was drawn, and it shows the common people.  Most images depicting common people of this era are drawn/painted by people who may never have seen a commoner of whatever-country in their lives.  There are a couple other famous-within-the-costuming-community images by de Heere:  his images of Irish dress and his allegory of the Tudor succession.

About five years ago, I found some further images of Englishwomen by de Heere in a book on the Valois tapestries, but they weren’t the highest resolution and were only in black and white, which started me on a hunt to find more.  It turns out that he published a costume book with a number of images I’d never seen.  I found an online copy of a dissertation written somewhere in the Netherlands or Belgium which included all of the images, but the resolution was TINY.  So, every year or so I’d do some poking around and hope to find an online or print source with usable images.  And today I found it, digitized at the University of Ghent!

There’s a lot that’s in it that I think will be very interesting to 16th c. costume researchers.  The book is a mix of representations of historical and contemporary dress.  Some of the illustrations are probably pretty accurate, and some may be completely made up.  However, there are enough images that are likely to be correct to make it a great source for costume research, and importantly costume books like this often served as models for future painters (ie an artist needed an image of some French peasants to fill out his/her landscape, so they’d copy those peasants out of a costume book).

Here is a link to the bibliographic data on the book, and here’s the scanned PDF of the book itself…. and here are some individual images from the book that I find most interesting!

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  • Reply Trystan January 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    OOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I’m salivating &, even after all that damn 12th nite sewing, suddenly I want to Make All the Dresses!!!

  • Reply Morella January 12, 2012 at 2:41 am

    The Venetian courtesan’s clothing looks surprisingly modern.

  • Reply Sarah Lorraine January 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Coolness! I’m still trying to track down the color version of the “Three Englishwomen” print that has been in every book on 16th c. costume since the early 20th c., but the individual colored prints here are actually close to what I remember the color version of the “Three Englishwomen” is. And several of those prints match up with figures from “Fete at Bermondsey” and the Civitates Orbis Terrarum prints by Joris Hoefnagel… Which adds another level of oddity to the whole thing. Hmm (things that make you go…)

  • Reply Sarah Lorraine January 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

    *Sorry, FOUR Englishwomen… Durrrr…

  • Reply Saraquill January 12, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Wow… I didn’t know these sketches were in color. I’ve also never seen the details on the sleeves of the English bourgeois and merchant woman before. Thank you.

  • Reply Meilin January 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you! These are lovely and very inspirational.

  • Reply Coif Progress and new resources! » Princess of Bob January 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    […] van Cleve of ‘Demode’ has unearthed an AMAZING resource for 16th c. costumers – 16th. c costume illustrations done by Lucas de Heere, in color! (Link to the pdf of the […]

  • Reply Laura January 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing these!

  • Reply Gillian March 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    These are fantastic. Thank you for sharing!

    Sarah Lorraine mentioned looking for a colour copy of the four English women sketch – I have scanned one from a copy made from ‘The Tudor Chronicles’ by Susan Doran. I’ve put it on my site http://gillianswardrobe.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/updates.html

  • Reply Heather B May 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Hi, thanks so much for sharing these – we are making the “Flanders” gowns shown on the group of London gentlewomen by de Heere for our SCA madrigal group – I was just going to scan my copy of it from the Tudor Chronicles but I found in the comments that someone has already done that!

    How did you go about extracting the jpg images above from the PDF’s in the scanned version of the book? I’d like to save several of them as image files.



  • Reply Gillian June 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Hi Heather,
    Use the Snapshot tool, under Edit in Adobe Acrobat. Just highlight what you want to copy, then open your picture editor of choice (I just use Microsoft Paint, available with Windows) and paste into a new picture. Save as whatever format and whichever name you like.
    Hope this helps,

  • Reply Elizabethan Accessories: Nosegays! – Laura Mellin – The Attack Laurel March 23, 2020 at 10:06 am

    […] http://demodecouture.com/lucas-de-heere-16th-c-costume-illustrations/ (About de Heere’s book of costume illustrations, and a link to a .pdf of the book itself.) […]

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