Wikipedia writes of fourteenth-century clothing:

“Wool was the most important material for clothing, due to its numerous favorable qualities, such as the ability to take dye and its being a good insulator. This century saw the beginnings of the Little Ice Age, and glazing was rare, even for the rich (most houses just had wooden shutters for the winter). Trade in textiles continued to grow throughout the century, and formed an important part of the economy for many areas from England to Italy. Clothes were very expensive, and employees, even high-ranking officials, were usually supplied with, typically, one outfit per year, as part of their remuneration.”

Great Heidelberg manuscript

Fig. 1 - Artist unknown (German). Great Heidelberg manuscript, 1305-1340. Parchment, cover color miniatures; 35 x 25 cm. Heidelberg: University Library Heidelberg, 12790. Source: University Library Heidelberg

Enthroned Virgin

Fig. 2 - Goro di Gregorio (Italian, 12??–1334). Enthroned Virgin, first half 14th century. Terracotta; 44.8 x 25.4 x 24.1 cm (17 5/8 x 10 x 9 1/2 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.214. The Cloisters Collection and Rogers Fund, 1998. Source: The Met


Fig. 3 - Designer unknown (French). Purse, early 14th century. Silk, linen, gold leaf; 14 x 15.2 cm (5 1/2 x 6 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 64.101.1364. Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964. Source: The Met


Wikipedia writes of fourteenth-century fabrics:

“Woodblock printing of cloth was known throughout the century, and was probably fairly common by the end; this is hard to assess as artists tended to avoid trying to depict patterned cloth due to the difficulty of doing so. Embroidery in wool, and silk or gold thread for the rich, was used for decoration. Edward III established an embroidery workshop in the Tower of London, which presumably produced the robes he and his Queen wore in 1351 of red velvet ’embroidered with clouds of silver and eagles of pearl and gold, under each alternate cloud an eagle of pearl, and under each of the other clouds a golden eagle, every eagle having in its beak a Garter with the motto hony soyt qui mal y pense embroidered thereon.’

Silk was the finest fabric of all. In Northern Europe, silk was an imported and very expensive luxury. The well-off could afford woven brocades from Italy or even further afield. Fashionable Italian silks of this period featured repeating patterns of roundels and animals, deriving from Ottoman silk-weaving centres in Bursa, and ultimately from Yuan Dynasty China via the Silk Road.”

The Crucifixion; the Redeemer with Angels; Saint Nicholas; Saint Gregory

Fig. 1 - Duccio di Buoninsegna (Italian, circa 1278-1319). The Crucifixion; the Redeemer with Angels; Saint Nicholas; Saint Gregory, 1311-1318. Tempera on panel; center overall, 61.0 x 39.4 cm ; left overall, 45.1 x 19.4 cm ; right overall, 45.1 x 20.2 cm (center overall, 24 x 15 1/2 in; left overall, 17 3/4 x 7 5/8 in; right overall, 17 3/4 x 7 15/16 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 45.880. Grant Walker and Charles Potter Kling Funds. Source: MFA Boston

Initial "H" with St. Martin and the Beggar (Cutting from an Antiphonary)

Fig. 2 - Attributed to Memmo di Filippuccio (Italian, early 14th century). Initial "H" with St. Martin and the Beggar (Cutting from an Antiphonary), early 14th century. Tempera, ink and gold on parchment; 17.6 x 18.2 cm (6 15/16 x 7 3/16 in). Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 41.908. Gift of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes. Source: MFA Boston


Standing Virgin and Child

Fig. 1 - Unknown (French). Standing Virgin and Child, ca. 1300–1350. Stone, paint; 141 x 44.8 x 26.7 cm (55 1/2 x 17 5/8 x 10 1/2 in). New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 25.120.213. The Cloisters Collection, 1925. Source: The Met


Fig. 2 - Unknown (French). Lectionary, ca. 1325. Parchment; 26 x 17 cm. New York: Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.512. Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1912.. Source: The Morgan


Historical Context


Europe during the 14th Century. Source: GifeX

  • 1321 – Dante’s Divina Comedia
  • 1346-48 – Black Death

Primary/Period Sources

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