Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Accolade

The Accolade, that famous image of Medieval chivalry, is a Pre-Raphaelite piece painted by Edmund Blair Leighton in 1901.  I understand its popularity, and I love that dress.  But the Pre-Raphaelites are not a good source for information on period costume, and Leighton's lady is wearing a confection of pure fantasy.  Nowhere in the Medieval era did people wear puffed sleeves with gathers.

Many reproductions of the Accolade dress are available online, most of them clearly citing the painting as their source.  But the work has nevertheless spawned a number of Medieval garb misconceptions.  Things like this are being sold as SCA wear:

Sleeves should be neither puffed nor gathered.  In addition, the maker advertises this as a bliaut, but it bears little resemblance to the bliauts of the 12th century.  There's no pleating across the torso.  The curving bust seams are a modern invention.  The inspiration from the Accolade is obvious and, like so many other 'Medieval' dresses on the market, this looks more like a Goth gown transposed into white.

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