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Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) (studio of) - Portrait of the Infanta Isabella - NG3819 - National Gallery


Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) (studio of) - Portrait of the Infanta Isabella - NG3819 - National Gallery



Rubens, Peter Paul; Portrait of the Infanta Isabella; The National Gallery, London;

Spanish collar, ruff or gorgera first appeared about 1560, and was at first open at the neck. After 1570 it becomes closed. It was gradually increasing in diameter reaching 25-30 cm, and by the 1580s the collar became known as the “millstone” or “cartwheel” which required a supporting frame. The collar was made from layers of plaited linen or lace. The Dutchwoman Dangen van Pless at the court of the English Queen Elizabeth I introduced starch that was initially yellowish, which made the collars creamy. Some tinted them with saffron in a golden hue and dyed them with natural dyes in pink or lilac colors. The rigidity of gorgera forced its owner to keep his posture, and for his impracticality, ruff became a symbol of wealth and status and contributed to the spread of the fork, the use of which made it possible to protect the collar from soiling with food. Gorgers were banned in Spain by King Philip IV. Spain was involved in endless wars against the growing Protestant world and in desperate need for cash. Philip announced an austerity program, condemned extravagance, and introduced the concept of simple, pragmatic living. Forcing people to live pragmatically was fairly difficult. Eventually, the inquisition found a way - it banned the ruffed collars and starch, as a "tool of the devil". Alquacils, inquisition enforcers of justice, were armed with scissors and prowled the streets of Madrid enforcing the ban. Shops were raided and gorgera merchandise burned. By the middle of the 17th century, ruff had decreased in diameter and almost did not use starch. The fashion lingered longer in the Dutch Republic, where ruffs can be seen in portraits well into the seventeenth century. In Germany and Flanders, ruff was worn until the beginning of the 18th century. In the 18th century, it remained for a long time among the Jews as an obligatory part of the costume.



1610 - 1614


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