Renaissance History • Sewing Costumes • Period Renaissance Clothing
Revival and Rebirth
The Renaissance period in European cultural history is seen traditionally as the end of the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages, and the beginning of modern times. The Renaissance began in Italy in the 14th century and flourished in Western Europe until about the 17th century. The term "Renaissance" was first coined in the 18th century by Jacob Burckhardt in "The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy".
The goal of Renaissance education was to produce the "complete human being" (Renaissance man); well-versed in humanities, mathematics and science, artistic expression and sports. The Renaissance man had extensive knowledge in many fields and went beyond boundaries in learning and geographical knowledge. Skepticism and free thought were encouraged.
The revival of interest in classical Greek and Roman culture motivated artists, architects, and writers. Scientists and explorers proliferated as well. It was typified by the spread of humanism, a return to classical values and the beginning of objective scientific inquiry.
Portrait of Lady Castlemaine
by J.M. Wright
Renaissance clothing was the epitome of the times. Renaissance men as well as ladies wore extravagant clothing adorned with gold and precious jewels. During this period a person's wealth was gauged by the value of the gems sewn onto his clothing.
Following are some excerpts from Burckhardt regarding Italian Renaissance costumes...
The costumes of the time, as given us by the Italian painters, are the most convenient, and the most pleasing to the eye which were then to be found in Europe. It is beyond a doubt that nowhere was so much importance attached to dress as in Italy. The nation was vain, and even serious men among it looked on a handsome and becoming costume as an element in the perfection of the individual.
The Renaissance created a culture which, though based in large part on imitating the ancients, inspired men to prove and enjoy the world in a way not possible under the medieval Church's watchful eye.