Wednesday, 4 August 2021

16 century open lace ruffs


By the end of the sixteenth century lower necklines became fashionable and the appearance of ruffs also began to change. Many were now worn open with the edges attached to the neckline on either side and pinned to the corners of the bodice. Ruffs were still wide and could be made entirely of lace or made of fine embroidered fabric edged with lace. Both the ruffs illustrated here are made of lace and edged with handmade needlelace.

Both images depict Queen Elizabeth I, the top one is by an unknown artist and was painted in 1590, the second is known as the rainbow portrait by Isaac Oliver and was painted in 1611. The ruffs would have been supported by an underproper (more on those another day) and the diaphanous veil behind would also have been supported with wire. In both portraits the Queen’s bodice is also embellished with fine needlelace so the whole effect would have been quite magnificent.

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