Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dutch Madder

Last Sunday the Friends of Fort Crailo presented a very interesting lecture on 17th century Dutch clothing. It featured a variety of costumes, from serving women to Sinterklaas.

This beautiful costume was developed for Fort Crailo's new exhibit, and was sewn by a very talented seamstress (whose name I didn't catch). She works for the State of New York, sewing authentic costumes for historic museum sites. She even made the lace trim by hand.

Someone remarked on the soft red color of the jacket, which was popular in 17th century Dutch paintings, and asked what dye would have been used to achieve it. I can't say for sure without a copy of Bright Earth, but based on some web searching, I believe the cloth would have been dyed with Rose Madder, a vegetable dye (supposedly the best European Madder is Dutch), or possibly Carmine, an insect pigment. Vermeer, who painted women's dresses in this color, achieved it with Madder Lake glazed over Vermillion, a mineral pigment (the glaze kept the Vermillion from darkening with exposure to light).

Fort Crailo will have a grand reopening on July 4, 2009, for the new exhibit: New Netherland: A Sweet and Alien Land. This is part of next year's celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage.