The Florentine Persona
Men's Clothing in 15th Century Florence, Page 1
by Vangelista di Antonio Dellaluna
A collection of portraits of men. Actually men's portraits abound in
Italian art, revealing a trend of heavier to lighter, more to less formal,
as the century progressed.
Domenico di Bartolo,
Pope Celestinus III Grants
Privilege of Independence to the Spedale
Detail, 1434, Florentine school.
Painted in Siena on the walls of the Hospital of Santa Maria Della Scala around 1440-1444,
this young man is one of the best-known images in Renaissance art. He is painted on the east
wall of the church, part of the painting now known as Extension of Privileges by Celestine
III, painted by Domenico di Bartolo.
From Ferrets in
History, this lovely close-up shows us a fop from the back. The
Sienese were apparently famous for being fashionable, and this young man
is right in tune. The most striking of his garments is a voluminous
(called a "houpelande" elsewhere in Europe), made of delicate sage-green
brocade lined with greyish-blue quilting (I think it is quilted because of
that square pattern the fabric has; it doesn't look embroidered or woven
in). The bluish fabric forms a deep, topstitched trim along the bottom of
the hem and sleeves. The left sleeve is tossed casually up over the
shoulder to show off a deep red farsetto (doublet) with a fancy trimmed or
rolled wrist. The neck of the garment, from the back, is v-shaped, a
common shape. Notice how the hems of the body of the garment and its
sleeves stick out -- they are almost stiff. The pleats are thick with lots
of substance to them.
For accessories, the fop wears blue hose with partecolored
red-and-white boots with jagged tops. His hat is almost cavalier-style,
trimmed in red along the upturned brim. From the front this probably looks
a bit like a cowboy hat!
The author of the "Ferrets in History" page makes a good case for that brown
thing on the fop's neck being a ferret. The right side of the neckline is the same
bluish-grey as the rest of the trim.
Throwing your sleeve back is an art. Examine carefully how this young
fop does his: The outer layer of the sleeve, with the green brocade, is
still visible the way he arranges things. You want that edge to be right
up there and visible. The custom is called
togata and was meant to evoke a classical-era look. All in all,
it's easy to see why the Sienese were considered rather ostentatious.
||Cosme Tura, Portrait of a Young Man, 1450.
This is a far simpler design and one that looks very appropriate for
everyday and summer wear. The young man wears a dark farsetto, or doublet,
perhaps hunter green in color, beneath a giornea, or pleated tabard. The
farsetto is pretty simple of design, with a stand-up collar and
semi-fitted sleeves. The giornea is black with no trim. There's no way of
knowing exactly how the bottom looks, of course. The thing I wanted to
point out here is the outfit's simplicity. No fussy embroidery, no weird
trims, no beading. The only embellishment at all are a pair of "arming
ribbons" on the youth's upper sleeves that you see all the time in this
period. They're useless, of course, but they look pretty. At one time they
probably were used to fasten armor. These are probably made of leather
thongs. The back of the farsetto's collar very likely forms a v-shape,
also very fashionable.
Of course, here you also see a red cap, this one
very simple and semi-cylindrical. Also note the teeny rim of white
undershirt peeking out from that farsetto collar.
||Benozzo Gozzoli, St. Francis Giving Away His Clothes,
Detail, 1452. Florentine school; fresco in Montefalco.
Here we see a middle-class fellow with truly dapper style. He wears a
mauve robe with the pleats we've come to expect, with red hose, black
shoes, and a red cap that looks somewhat cylindrical. Get a good look at
his shoes -- these are easy to find in most mundane shops. The green thing
across his arm is a garment being handed to him; his own sleeves are
almost leg-o-mutton, with puffy tops and fitted down at the wrists, though
it's impossible to tell if they are one or two-piece because of the green
thing. His robe is slit up the side, probably so he can work. He wears a
thin, plain grey belt that is apparently fastened in the front over fairly
thin pleats -- perhaps this garment isn't stiffened like a more expensive
one might be. This outfit looks like a very servicable one for summers and
Benozzo Gozzoli, The School of Tagaste, 1464,
detail. From a fresco in San Gimignano.
Where to start? Here is a fine sampling of various middle-class to
upper-class men's garments. Starting from the left, one sees a proud
father with his son. The boy is outfitted in a hanging-sleeve cioppa,
thickly pleated, with fur trim. He also wears matching hose and no visible
shoes. His farsetto, underneath the cioppa, is a rich red. The father's
robe is more elaborate, with angelwing sleeves lined in rich fur, and it
reaches the ground. He wears a sort of liripipe hat and a white farsetto.
The professor examining the spoiled brat wears a longer red robe, lined
in dark grey material (perhaps fur). It is likely open at the sides,
because one line of trim goes up the left side of it, to the belt. Note
that the sleeves aren't terribly fitted at the wrist and that the garment
is altogether longer than usual. The professor also wears red hose with no
The two youths behind the professor wear basic middle-class clothing.
The one on the left wears a short-sleeved garment similar to a giornea
called a gonnellino, also open at the sides, made of orange fabric trimmed
in blue. He wears matching hose and bright red shoes. Naturally he also
wears a farsetto beneath his gonnellino, this one in dark green with very
fitted forearms. Note the collar of the robe -- it is a v-neck, as many
The youth's friend, behind him, wears an interesting giornea of dark
red over a jerkin of dark blue. The tabard is cut to fall in folds, not
like a typical SCA tabard which is basically long rectangles. It seems to
be lined in white fur and trimmed along the edges. The doublet beneath it
is thigh-length, with semi-fitted sleeves, and is clearly meant to be worn
with yet another doublet beneath it -- there is a bit of dark green sleeve
peeking out from the doublet's own sleeve. He does not wear shoes with his
bright red hose.
A fellow stands behind the two friends with an infant on his back. The
infant's clothes are not easily made out, but the fellow holding him is
wearing a loose-cut garment over a more fitted doublet.
And on the right, we get another view of the professor and his
now-chastened pupil. We can now see that the professor wears a more fitted
garment beneath that robe, and we get a better look at the boy's two-piece
sleeves under those hanging outer sleeves. The two-piece sleeves are very
typical of the period.
||Francesco del Cossa, detail from Triumph of May,
Ferrara, about 1470. (Click here to see
a larger image)
This image is from the "Hall of Months" in the Palazzo Schifanoia in
Ferrara. Here we see a young man at the height of fashion. He wears a
baby-girl pink giornea edged in ruffles and trim, with just the front side
belted (as many SCA ladies wear their sideless surcoat dresses now). The
back side just flaps in the breeze. His forest-green farsetto has the
split forearms popular in Ferrara and Florence, with plenty of camicia
sleeve visible through the split. Note also his bright red arming-ribbons,
flowing from his upper arm sleeve.
His multicolored hose are red and blue, with one boot on the blue side.
The boot buttons up the inside seam, leaving the blue hose underneath
showing through. There doesn't seem to be any kind of shoe on the left
foot. It seems clear that his hose go to the waist -- either that or he's
wearing bright red Fruit of the Looms there.
You should also note his hat. I've heard these called "Phrygian caps",
though I haven't seen the term in period yet.
||Francesco del Cossa, detail from Triumph of May,
Ferrara, about 1470. (Click here
to see a larger image)
Our second "Triumph of May" detail has a lot of things in it to take
in. He wears what appears to be a forest-green velvet giornea with no side
seams, rather fuller than the first youth's tabard-like garment. This one
appears to be quilted, or perhaps lined in fur. The outer edges of it
certainly are edged in fur and a wide layer of lighter green trim. The
neckline has more elaborate trim in the same color, plus a cross pendant
dangling from the bottom of the "V" (incidentally, most outer garments had
a V-shaped back neckline). The garment only reaches to the thigh. It is
belted with a plain-looking brown belt that is buckled in back.
His dove-gray farsetto also has split forearms. Note that the split
occurs just above the elbow -- it is much easier to move one's arm if you
do it this way, and it looks a lot nicer. The upper sleeve is gathered to
the lower sleeve. The lower sleeve is laced up fairly tightly. One can
also see the middle back seam above the giornea's neckline, and seams
right under the armholes. The neck of the farsetto looks fairly high.
Naturally, he's got some pretty white camicia collar peeking above the
farsetto, and plenty of sleeve showing through his forearm slits.
His hose are particolored, with one leg plain white, the other
white-and-red. He may have soles set into the feet of the hose. The hose
both have back seams running right down the center back of each leg.
||Francesco del Cossa, Portrait of St.
Florian,, 1473. Florentine school.
St. Florian is a 3rd-century saint who is now the patron saint of
firefighters. A Roman army officer, he is said to have put out a housefire
by throwing just one bucket of water at it. I'm including this painting
here so you can see the trim and the cloak, both of which I think are
quite neat. The tunic is a Renaissance-era painter's idea of what a Roman
might wear, but note how much fuller it is than a medieval artist might
depict. The trim takes the form of contrasting edging on the tunic hem and
a facing on the vertical-slit neckline. The sleeve edges are also trimmed.
Also note the boots, which look contemporary both to our period and to the
artist's. The leggings look like nice warm wool, from the creases in his
||Andrea del Verrocchio, "Bust of Lorenzo
de Medici", about 1480, Florence.
This terracotta sculpture depicts one of the greatest men in Florentine
history. His personality really comes through on this bust. First, note
the hat, a modified liripipe. Not for him, the frou-frou long pointy pipe
and dagged edges of a traditional liripipe. This hat looks more like a
long woolen cylinder with an open end and a narrow rolled edge. He wears
it over an austere pageboy haircut.
On his body, he wears a sleeveless giornea over a doublet. This giornea
has a narrow stand-up collar and appears to fasten down the middle front.
It is pleated down the front. Little can be seen of his sleeves, except
that they are clearly not the poofy big two-piecers that were so common
just a decade or so earlier. He also wears a narrow scarf around his neck
and shoulders, a fairly unusual touch. He wears no visible jewelry or
tokens of office.
The Florentine Closet
This page last edited January 23, 2011.
All text copyright Vangelista di Antonio Dellaluna, except
where otherwise noted, and may not be reproduced elsewhere except
with permission. All portraits are understood to be copyright-
free and are presented as research aids only. Author makes no
guarantees of accuracy.