Like sooo many others before me, I've loved the "Eleanor of Toledo with Son" portrait painted by Bronzino. Something about it is so striking that I keep coming back to the painting again and again. I've always enjoyed the lighting of the picture, the colours used, and the freshness of the faces of the couple. With the uncluttered look of the painting and clearness of the details of the painting, I always felt Bronzino really captured the elegant-ness of Eleanor and her Son.
What truly inspired the making of this dress was the desire to prove my construction ideas. I had read many theories about the construction of this gown, seen many recreations, and had discussions with still others about how it was done, if it was a real dress at all, and still was not satisfied with most of the theories presented. I wanted to see if my sewing abilities and theories were up to the challenge of supporting my mouth. *grin*
In order to answer some design questions seen in the painting, I needed to do some background research on both the sitter (Eleonora) and the painter (Bronzino). This proved to be more difficult than at first thought. Eleonora had been born in Spain, raised in Naples, and married off to Florence. Bronzino, on the other hand, was known as a portrait painter, he had not accomplished a lot of other types of paintings, there by making it difficult to compare his interpretations. It also didn't help that Eleonora's name could be spelt in 4 or 5 different languages (making searches for her difficult), and Bronzino went by 2 different names, causing many people to confuse his name with other artists.
Based on available evidence, and conjecture, I have attempted to recreate the Eleonora gown as close as possible. Below is a list of all the elements of this gown. I've started off with a conjecture of her fabric, because it does seem to affect the layout and placement of the pattern pieces. I moved on to the different clothing pieces, and finally the finished gown on a real person.
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|Fiber Pattern||Corset||Bodice||Shoes||City History|
|Pattern Layout||Chemise||Sleeves||Belt||The Sitter|
Fabric Textile Museum of Lyon
Samples of Topics Documented at Medici.org
Civic Museum of Art, Turin
Dressing Renaissance Florence
Frick, Carole Collier
John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (c)2002
Florence in the Forgotten Centuries: 1527-1800
University of Chicago Press, Chicago (c)1973
Patterns of Fashion: 1560-1620
Macmillian Publishers Ltd, London (c)1985
tr. David Poole Radzinowicz and Christine Schultz-Touge
Flammarion: Paris, France (c) 2002