Polish Studies Initiative Event
“'Dressed to Kill:’ The Clothing of Christ’s Tormentors in an Illustrated Polish Devotional Manuscript”
The Dominican Meditations is an illuminated devotional manuscript made in Krakow, Poland in 1532. Many of its miniatures show extremely realistic and detailed non-canonical tormentors of Christ, whose clothing instead of representing Roman era garb, reflects certain documentable trends in early sixteenth- century European fashion history. The artist consciously borrowed the striped, tattered hose, contrastively slashed doublets, and ostrich feathers of the landsknechten or mercenaries of Emperor Maxmilian I, and well known in Poland through a series of battles of the 1500s, in order to enhance the brutality of these Jewish and Roman torturers and to make it seem more immediate and contemporary by tying it to a social group already well-established in Poland as despised and outrageous.There will be many images from Polish "Golden Age" illuminated manuscripts offered in the talk.
John Block Friedman is Professor Emeritus of English and Medieval Studies, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and currently Visiting Scholar at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at The Ohio State University. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and is on the Editorial Board of the Chaucer Review. He is the author, editor or associate editor of a number of books, and the author of numerous articles. Forthcoming works on fashion include the chapter “Hair and Social Class,” in A Cultural History of Hair in the Middle Ages, edited by Roberta Millikan, as well as forthcoming “Eyebrows, Hairlines, and ‘Hairs Less in Sight’: Female Depilation in Late Medieval Europe,” in Medieval Clothing and Textiles.