April 15, 2016

Firm Lady

Such wonderful news today, I have been captivated by it all day. It sounds like a treasure hunt, the researches themselves say its like finding something in a hidden room, but it is even better.
In August 2014 divers found textile near a known ship wreck in the Wadden Sea near Texel in The Netherlands. Among the textile finds are a near perfect silk dress, an embroidered etui and never worn stockings. The spectacular news of the find was kept secret till now, so researches had time to explore and make sure what the find was. It now turns out that the ship wreck is dated to be built around 1600. The ship is made of boxwood and by using the tree rings they are pretty sure about this dating. Among the finds is a Jacobs staff, a tool for navigation, with the date '1636' written on it. So these clothing found by the divers are from beginning of the 17th century. That means they were laying on the bottom of the sea for 400 years. One of the divers says in a clip online: "Normally you only read history and now we added something to it".

These two fragments of fabric were found, both embroidered and very well preserved, on the bottom of the sea. Stills from trailer of the exhibition 'Garde Robe'

I can't believe it. I think they took their sweet time coming out with the date because: What?!
I was at a lecture in the Rijksmuseum last year and a researcher specialist in Silk from China kinda frustrated explained that they didn't really know what the designs looked like, because weren't any left. So I wonder how she feels about this find. Maybe there is still hope in the sea near China...
The ship probably got covered very quickly by sand and therefor the cargo is still intact near the ship. This makes it an unique find, next to the well preserved textiles of course. They found crates with Mastic (a kind of resin), well smelling things from Turkey of Greece, pottery from Italy and a silver goblet. This collection of objets gives a very interesting insight in this part of history.

The Silk Damast woven dress from begin 17th century

The high light of the find is a Silk Damast woven dress. The pattern is still very visible from what I can tell on the photos. The dress was probably one colour and probably red. The linen inside of the dress had vanished like the pages of an also found bookcover. Only the leather outside of the book is preserved. It gave the researches a good clue to whom these luxury goods belonged. They think it is  from/for royalty of the House of Stuart. And they think it belong to one firm lady, based of the size of the clothing which has all the same size.

Embroidered etui from begin 17th century

Some of the finds are now on display till 16 May in Museum Kaap Skil on Vlieland.
After the exhibition the objects go to an archaeological center in Noord-Holland for further research. I will try to visit and share some more here.

Read and see more on:
-www.dutchnews.nl (in English)
- Pdf publication "Onderwater­ archeologie op de Rede van Texel"

Here some things to put the finds above into historical context though other objects. And to show how well preserved the textiles are:

Painting 'Dutch ships at the Rede of Texel' by Ludolf Bakhuysen
From 1671
Collection Rijksmuseum

Engraving of 'Elegant Lady' by Adriaen Matham 
From 1619 - 1652
Collection Rijksmuseum

Part of jacket made in England
Linen embroidered with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt thread
From 1620-1640 
Collection V&A

Band of lace made in England
Needle lace, worked in human hair, with thicker outlines possibly in horsehair
From ca. 1640 - ca. 1680 (made)
Collection V&A

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