Men's and Women's Work Clothing: A Portfolio of Images

This collection focuses on the clothing of people at work, primarily outdoors. In most cases it will show details, not the complete images from which they were taken. References for these images, as well as information about complete images, are available below.

Comments welcome:

Les Tres Riches Heures du Jean, Duc de Berry.

The cycle of calendar miniatures begun by the Limbourg brothers in 1416 have become some of the most famous images from the Middle Ages. It was unusual for Books of Hours or Horae to have such detailed and large illustrations. Early examples included small miniatures of zodaical signs and an increasingly standardized depiction of seasonal work.
Detail from the month of March
Detail from the month of June
Detail from the month of June
Detail from the month of August
Detail from the month of September
Detail from the month of October
Detail from the month of December

Simon Bening, The DaCosta Hours.

Inspired by the large Calendar pictures of the Limbourg's example which he saw when it was in the library of Margaret of Austria in Malines, Bening created this manuscript in 1515 in Bruges for a member of the Sá family; it then passed to Portuguese King Manuel's armorer, Alvaro da Costa, whose name it now bears.
"Bening was the last great Flemish illuminator, and he capitalized on the current taste for large Calendar miniatures, taking them to their limit by making them full-page. . .Bening was known for his naturalistic depictions of figures and landscapes. He was a great observer of detail, including fabrics, the objects and events of daily life, and even weather conditions. . . [His] fame was widespread in his lifetime, and his creations were much sought after, not only in Belgium, but also in Italy, Germany, and Portugal. "
Detail from the month of January

Fur-lined, front fastening gown rose wool gown over narrow sleeved, red undergown. As is typical of the gowns of this period, the neckline is filled in with black. 

Detail from the month of February

The workmen plant and prune grape vines.

Detail from the month of March

The workmen plant the litchen garden.

Detail from the month of March

In the distance, hence very small and enlarged here, a man and woman stand on a bridge. 

Detail from the month of April

The woman milking the cow wears an overgown, fitted to the waist, of light red/rose with a deep v backline, over an undergown of black. Her shift sleeves are visible beneath the short sleeves of the gown, and she has drawn blue oversleeves on to protect her arms. She also wears a linen apron and head wrap.

Detail from the month of April

A woman drives a cow from the barn while another churns butter. She wears an outfit identical to that of the woman milking the cow, above (same woman?). In this front view we see no evidence of the black undergown. Is it, then really an undergown or simply a black insert?

Detail from the month of May

Though definitely not working, this group of May revelers was too delightful not to include!

Detail from the month of June

The man scything hay shows us the fitting details at the waist of his hose and wears an interesting vest-like garment over his shirt.

Detail from the month of June

Again, a very small image enlarged so details are not good, but we can see that the gown is similar/identical to those above. We can also see that her shift has a v-neck or a piece of linen is tucked into the neckline.

Detail from the month of August

The woman tying hay bundles wears the fitted overgown with short sleeves, red sleeve/arm protectors, a linen apron, and a straw hat over her linen headwrap.

Detail from the month of November

The woman scrutching flax wears a short-sleeved green gown over her shift, with red pulled-on oversleeves. Her headwrap and apron are, of course, white linen.

Detail from the month of November

The men beat flax.

Detail from the month of December

Dressed for snow, the woman wears a blue, long-sleeved, lined overgown over a blue undergown. Pattens protect her feet while two headwraps and a hat protect her head.


1) Apeloig, Philippe. Calendar: Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. Editions du Desastre, 1996.
2) The Morgan Library. Calendar: The DaCosta Hours. New York: Pomegranate Communications, Inc. 1999.
3) Les Tres Riches Heures online at:
4) LES TRÈS RICHES HEURES DU MOYEN ÂGE: A Virtual Archive of Medieval Books of Hours -
5) Search on your favorite web search site for "Books of Hours" and you will turm up a host of information and images on these illuminated manuscripts

Selected Works Related to Books of Hours:
1) Backhouse, Janet. The Hastings hours / Janet Backhouse. San Francisco : Pomegranate Artbooks in association with the British Library, 1997.
2) Boccara, Dario. Les belles heures de la tapisserie. Milan, Italy: Les Clefs du Temps, 1971.
3) Cazelles, Raymond. Illuminations of heaven and earth : the glories of the Trèsriches heures du duc de Berry. New York : H.N. Abrams, 1988.
4) Evans, Mark. The Sforza Hours. New York : New Amsterdam Books, c1992.
5) Meiss, Millard. French painting in the time of Jean de Berry : the Limbourgs and their contemporaries. New York : G. Braziller : The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1974.
6) Pierpont Morgan Library. A selection of twelve miniatures from the Da Costa hours, Pierpont Morgan Library Manuscript 399. New York, 1972.
7) Smith, Leslie and Jane H.M. Taylor, eds. Women and the Book: Assessing the visual Evidence.
8) Wieck, Roger S. Painted prayers : the book of hours in medieval and Renaissance art. New York : George Braziller in association with the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1997.

Created by, 17 April 2000.
Alice Nele's SCA Collection