I’m kind of stuck.
I’m sitting here, dreaming about my future utter and complete fabulousness. To my horror, I have realized there are so many options in terms of color and embellishment that I can’t possibly make up my mind. You get to help, dear reader, so follow along closely, here.
There is some conjecture and debate as to who exactly posed for de Gheyn. The men depicted in the engravings are dressed a little too well for men we’d consider common private soldiers. On the one hand, the engravings were made at the end of a century which saw the most flamboyant soldiers – Landsknechten – seen until the mid-19th-century cavalry (kings of huge fuzzy hats and gold braid). On the other, drilling infantry of ca. 1600 were often militia companies.
Militia companies – in England, the Trained Bands and on the Continent usually referred to by the names of their commanders – were as a general rule made up of men of substance in their communities. Civic authorities did not want rowdy apprentices and rude mechanicals trained to arms, so they instituted certain socio-economic bars to entry into the militia companies.
Compare the embellishment and accessories in de Gheyn’s engravings with such paintings as The Meagre Company, The Company of Captain Albert Bas and Lieutenant Lucas Conijn, or The Militia Company of Captain Allaert Cloeck. We know the men in the Companies painted were men of substance. It is of little doubt that the men in de Gheyn’s engravings are men of similar social stature.
The first thing to decide is “What fabric?” In the paintings, one can see all manner of fabrics, from wools to silk satins. While I’m a big fan of silk satin, I’m also a clumsy ass who would ruin silk satin with spilled whatsit at the earliest possible opportunity, so that’s out. I think a fine wool flannel is in order. The only question is, “What color?”
Luckily, we carry a line of high-quality wool flannel. Looking through the paintings, we see a lot of sober black. A little too much sober black, if you ask me; I’m not a big fan of black. For one thing, it shows dirt and dust. For another, I don’t want people to refer to me as “the Elizabethan Goth Dude”. Not like I wear eyeliner or anything! But I do listen to The Smiths and The Cure and stuff. So to avoid confusion, let’s avoid black.
Refer to yesterday’s blog post and dig those groovy almost-pastel colors. That’s what I’m digging. I’m specifically digging Musketeer Plate 2, shown again here:
I’m digging the Coventry blue breeches and yellow doublet framed in red. He’s got what appears to be a leather sleeveless jerkin on over his doublet. Primary colors – we haz dem. You can see the colors on the wool flannel product page.
Okay, so that’s colors and fabric. Unless you’ve got a better idea; if you do, I want to hear about it! Call or email me – toll-free phone is 1-866-518-1558, and email is bob AT reconstructinghistory DOT com (I get enough spam. Remove the obvious crap to actually get me).
Maybe you think primary colors are a bad idea, and you think a different combo is more spiffy. Maybe you think I shouldn’t sell myself short, that I should go for the black silk satin so common in the militia company paintings. Tell me! Results will be made known when I tell you. Any completely ridiculous suggestions will be dismissed out of hand, though I will probably publicly post them so other readers can imagine me in mauve breeches and chartreuse doublet trimmed with teal feather-boa trim from Joanne’s. I’m cool with that kind of attention.
Next post, embellishment. Much will depend on the consensus, if any, on the base fabric. We go with wool – essentially copying the Musketeer – then red stuff seems to make the most sense. But we’ll look into that next week.
Until then, keep your powder dry!