Shirt thumbnail 1
Shirt thumbnail 2
+6
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Shirt

ca. 1540 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Until the mid 20th century a man’s shirt was an item of underwear. However, those parts of it exposed when the wearer was fully dressed were often embellished. In this example, the collar and cuffs are embroidered in a pattern of stylised columbine and leaves in cross stitch. The embroidery continues on the seams of the sleeves and shirt body, even though these would not be seen. Collars and cuffs decorated in a similar way can be seen in portraits of men by Hans Holbein between 1535 and 1555.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, linen thread, silk thread; hand-woven, hand-embroidered, hand-sewn
Brief Description
Boy's shirt of linen embroidered with blue silk, made in England, ca. 1540
Physical Description
Shirt of embroidered linen with silk. Made of white fine lawn and embroidered with blue silk. At the neck and cuffs are cross stitches and the edges of the neck and cuff frills are whipped in overcast stitches. The side, shoulder and arm seams are worked in interlaced buttonhole stitches with additional ornamentation in cross and back stitches.



The deep, two inch, neck piece and the cuff frills are decorated with an angular, interlaced stem bearing columbine flowers and leaves. Around the wrists are lines of rope in an interlace pattern and the narrow neck frill is patterned with isolated leaf motifs. The seams are decorated with tiny Renaissance motifs.



The main body of the shirt is made from two flat panels cut across the width of the fabric with the selvedges forming the hem. A section, nine inches deep and four inches wide, is cut from the top of each side to take the sleeves, which are set-in square. A gusset is formed by a piece of the main shirt cut out on the diagonal to form an triangle under the arm. The top edges of the two main panels are seamed for about two inches and the remainder is slightly gathered and whipped onto the straight neck band. The front panel is slit open for about ten inches and is secured by three pairs of plaited tie-strings attached to the neck band. The lower 13.5 inches of the side seams are left open. The straight, full sleeves are tightly gathered onto narrow wrist bands.





Dimensions
  • Centre back length: 35.25in
  • Centre back length: 89.8cm
  • 27.75 width: in
  • Width: 70.5cm
  • Sleeve length: 22in
  • Sleeve length: 60cm
Summary
Until the mid 20th century a man’s shirt was an item of underwear. However, those parts of it exposed when the wearer was fully dressed were often embellished. In this example, the collar and cuffs are embroidered in a pattern of stylised columbine and leaves in cross stitch. The embroidery continues on the seams of the sleeves and shirt body, even though these would not be seen. Collars and cuffs decorated in a similar way can be seen in portraits of men by Hans Holbein between 1535 and 1555.
Bibliographic Reference
Patterson, Angus, Fashion and Armour in Renaissance Europe: Proud Lookes and Brave Attire, V&A Publishing, London, 2009, ISBN 9781851775811, p. 40, ill.
Collection
Accession Number
T.112-1972

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdAugust 25, 2005
Record URL