Image Review

Joachim Beuckelaer, “Allegory of Negligence” ca. 1563

KMSKA Antwerp, Joachim Beuckelaer, “Allegory of Negligence” 
ca. 1563

Zoomable Image:

Detail: date stamp

I updated the date on this entry to specifically 1563 because I see that written on the end of the wood piece the man is using to prop up his leg. The museum link did not list a date so MMV.

Keep in mind that the painting is entitled “Allegory of Negligence” so some of the details shown may be allegorical (ie. something used to illustrate an allegory which is a metaphor used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues). Honestly as far as an allegory goes, this is fantastic since this is showing off a lot of details that are normally hidden. 

What I see:
The woman on the left is wearing a round necked smock with her smock sleeves rolled up. Over that she’s wearing a beige sleeveless gown which is spiral-laced through lacing rings open over a gold piece of fabric. Over the gown she’s wearing a white apron which appears to tie in front (the extra knot you see showing in the lacing area. On her head she’s wearing a huve (coif). On her legs she apears to have dark socks/hose and wears a pair of black shoes.

Detail: She who skewers things

In general her appearance is fairly sloppy. Normally I’d expect the fabric under the open-laced gown would be a kirtle. In this case it looks like a loose piece of fabric which may be illustrating her negligence. She is also missing a partlet which would normally be worn over her gown/smock. I’ve seen images indicating that the aprons strings cross over in the back and tie in front, but this is the first time I’ve seen the knot. I suspect normally that’s tucked behind the apron (again illustrating her sloppiness)

Detail: She with all the partlets

The woman in the center of the painting is wearing a beige (probably) sleeveless gown with orange/gold (probably) pinned on sleeves wide front opening with black spiral lace. Her smock is showing at the ends of the sleeves with a bit of pleating and as the top, white horizontal line in the opening of her white partlet. The white partlet has a collar with attached pleating at the edge. The white partlet fastens at the center front possibly with a pin or a hook/eye(?). It also fastens under her arms somehow. Over top of her white partlet she is also wearing a black rounded partlet/gollar which is lined in white and has a collar. That partlet appears to be just set on her shoulders with no obvious fastening. If you zoom all the way in on the opening of the white partlet you can also see a darker horizontal line below the line for the smock that I believe indicates the top of her red kirtle. The kirtle appers to be ribbed under the black laces of her gown. I’m not entirely certain what that is supposed to indicate. Over her gown she wears a light brown/beige apron. On her head she wears a huve (coif) and a wired veil possibly held in place with ear irons.

Wads of her smock fabric are sticking out at the point where her sleeves are pinned on. This is odd and I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

Detail: He who gropes.. err touches fondly

The man in the center of the image is wearing a white shirt with a collar and pleating on the edge of the collar. The collar ties closed with two string with knots or tiny tassels on the end of the string. There is also pleating on the wrist edges of the shirt which is peeking out of the doublet sleeves. Over this he’s wearing a brown (probably wool) button down doublet with tiny or non-existent skirting. Over this he’s wearing a brown sleeveless leather jerkin that is tied closed only at the neckline with a single point or leather lace. The shoulder area of the jerkin is worked but it’s unclear if that’s tiny slashes or some kind of leather embossing. The bottom half of the jerkin is slashed in wide strips and the lowest edge is slashed into even more narrow strips. I’m unclear on how you’d get that separation between the body and skirting portion of the jerkin. Maybe a seam over that fold in the leather(?). He’s wearing red breeches that are very full at the hips but much tighter in the calf. He’s wearing black shoes.

The bottom few buttons of the doublet are undone which is probably a nod to the allegory. He also is not wearing a hat.. but I’m not sure if that’s fairly common or a sign of his negligence.

Detail: She that pours the drinks

The standing woman on the right is wearing a round neck white smock with long sleeves rolled up to her elbows. You can just see a bit of the smock peeking though the opening of her white partlet. Over the smock she appears to be wearing a beige kirtle which is only visible under the laces of the gown. The front of the kirtle also appears to be ribbed. Over the kirtle she’s wearing a red sleeveless open front gown with a black spiral lace. Over the gown she’s wearing a white partlet which has a collar with attached pleating at the edge. The white partlet fastens at the center front possibly with a pin and has ties which appear to be knotted together but not holding the partlet closed at the top. It also fastens under her arms somehow. Over the lower half of the gown she’s wearing a beige apron which is tied in the front (the visible knot). On her head she’s wearing a white huve (coif) and wired veil, possibly with ear irons. She also has a gorgeous prunted glass (which I totally want) and a metal pitcher.

Detail: She that drinks and baby

Finally the seated woman on the right is wearing a red gown. Over this she’s wearing a beige apron and grey jacket. Under the jacket she’s probably wearing a white partlet with pleating along he edge of the partlet collar. On her head she’s wearing what looks to me like a coif (strap under her chin) and a huve on top of that.
In her lap we have a baby. The baby is wearing a white long sleeved shirt with a short unadorned open collar and a red gown. The gown is closed with a black spiral lace that appears to go through lacing rings. As a modern parent I’m appalled at the idea of trying to get the baby into and out of something with a lace.. but as a seamstress I can see how this particular layout of shirt and baby-gown would probably work for the baby for anywhere from 2 months to 2 years old. In this case it looks like the baby has nearly outgown his/her clothes (note the little wrist bones sticking out of the sleeves). I suspect he/she is overdue for new clothes.

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