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Roughly chronicled on the historical timeline

as a period marked from the 14th to the 17th centuries,

the Renaissance amounted to a high point of European civilization.

Translated to mean  a “rebirth”,  it is considered a cultural movement

which commenced in Italy, eventually spread throughout Europe

and bridged the divide between the medieval period

and that of the early modern era.

The Renaissance seemed a time of energised activity and new perspectives:

of intense study of the past and innovation for the future.

It was characterised by keen enthusiasm for

knowledge of classical history of the ancient world

exploration of the New World

urbanisation and the growth of cities

manufacturing and invention.

It was a time of the established great and grand

as well as the rise of the social climber.

It was a time of magnficientia .

As commerce in cities steadily soared,

there were many opportunities for money-making ventures.

Prince, courtier, merchant- all had the means for displays of wealth

and went to some lengths to ensure that all knew.

Magnificentia was key to this Renaissance attitude-

that of conspicuous expenditure.

Some financed the construction of public buildings.

Others bought works of art for private collection and

 there were those who spent their acquired wealth on looking fabulous.

Matthäus Schwarz (1497 – 1574)

was a German accountant who worked for the Fugger family,

a prominent German mercantile and banking house.

From an early age Schwarz was captivated by fashion.

He spent most of his income on clothes

and on chronicling himself attired in his garments.

It would seem that Herr Schwarz was the first recorded “fashion blogger”

an accountant by trade and a serious sartorial stylisto by vocation.

matthaus schwarz, portrait, by hans maler

Matthäus Schwarz

by German portraitist,  Hans Maler

For forty years, 1520 – 1560, he commissioned watercolour paintings

of himself in various fashionable outfits.

His first watercolour “fashion sitting” was at the age of 23.

Sumptuary laws,

(which dictated what a person could and could not wear

given their social rank)

put some restrictions on the range of Herr Schwarz’s ensembles.

Yet, he did manage to acquire an enviable wardrobe,

which reflected his sense of fashion innovation.

(image from tumblr.com):

matthaus schwarz, 29 1/2 yrs old, tumblr.com

Matthäus Schwarz

At 29 1/2 years old

Herr. Schwarz had his his forty years of  “selfie” watercoulour fashion images

bound into a book, titled Klaidungsbüchlein (Book of Clothes).

It is probably the first book on personal style and fashion-

of an evolution of self expression and identity through clothing worn.

The book is of interest to scholars as source material to

images of Renaissance dress.

Matthäus Schwarz

An outfit for every occasion

(image from ttolk.ru):

matthaus, schwarz, in fur and red tights

From the back

wearing fur and red tights

(image from medievalists.net):

matthaus schwarz, archer

As archer in a suit of yellow/grey ruffles

with colour alternating hosiery

(image from bbc.co.uk):

matthaus schwarz, lute

With lute in an embroidered lilac tunic with gold details

cinched at waist with matching hose

matthaus schwarz

In wide brimmed hat, embellished top, tiered breeches and solid tights

matthaeus schwarz, nude, bbc,_68040084_newnude464

In the nude

back and full frontal

(Body appreciation without the trappings of clothing.)

Matthaeus Schwarz
Red as go to colour statement

(image from notevenpast.org):

matthaus schwarz

Black/white coulour story:  a young Schwarz with falcon (l)

Black ensemble with a peek of red:  an older Schwarz (r)

(image from univ-paris1.fr):

matthaus schwarz on horseback

On horseback in an outfit of puff sleeves and full pleated skirt

(images from bbc.co.uk):

mathhaus schwarz, with sword

With sword

matthaus schwarz

At work and play

Matthaus Schwarz

At the ready

in armor attire

Only two books of Klaidungsbüchlein (Book of Clothes) were made-

the original and a copy.

The readership was limited to a select few of the author’s choosing.

Through the generations, the books had remained in the possession of

Herr. Schwarz’s descendants.

The original is now in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum

in Braunschweig, Germany

For further reading on Matthäus Schwarz and Renaissance dress, have a look at:

Dressing Up: Cultural identity in Renaissance Europe

by Professor Ulinka Rublack, Cambridge University