Sunday, August 23, 2015

Doing the Laundry - Starch for those 16C Ruffs & for other garments for centuries beyond

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Attribued to François Clouet (French artist, 1510-1572) Portrait of a Woman

Ordinary starch was made by boiling bran in water, then letting it stand for 3 days, according to a 15C recipe. Once the bran had been strained out, cloth was dipped in the sour, starchy water, dried, then smoothed and polished with a slickstone.


1577 Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Layton after George Gower

In the 1500s, the more refined "clear-starch" method consisted of preparing transparent starch mixtures & knowing how to use them. Clear-starching meant keeping delicate muslin & similar fabrics from being clogged with starch granules in the loose weave to avoiding thickening caused by visible traces of starch clinging to the threads. Starch-making could take up to a month, with long boiling, soaking, draining, rinsing, drying and so on.


1570 Madeleine le Clerc du Tremblay by Francois Clouet.

The most pure and white starch is made of the rootes of the Cuckoo-pint, but most hurtful for the hands of the laundresse that have the handling of it, for it chappeth, blistereth, and maketh the hands rough and rugged and withall smarting. Gerard's Herbal, 1633



1580-85 Mary Cornwallis, Countess of Bath by George Gower

In the 17C, the use of wheat was criticized for wasting food on fashion.


1580 Scipione Pulzone or His Workshop (1550-1598) Portrait of a Young Woman

The 18C saw experimentation with different sources of starch, including horse chestnuts and potatoes.


1580s Federico Barocci (Urbino 1528-1612)

There are various things which diferent people mix with their starch, such as alum, gum arabic, and tallow, but if you do put anything in, let it be a little isinglass, for that is by far the best. About an ounce to a quarter of a pound of starch will be sufficient. The complete servant maid: or young woman's best companion. Containing full, plain, and easy directions... , Anne Barker, c 1770


1580s Unknown English Lady by circle of Larkin

You should always boil your starch in a copper vessel, because as it requires a great deal of boiling, tin is very apt to make it burn to. The complete servant maid: or young woman's best companion, Anne Barker c 1770


1582 AEt. 26 Anne Knollys now Lady De La Warr by Robert Peake

In the 19C, new ingredients and manufacturing methods were developed in the quest for pure white, refined starch. Rice starch was considered to give a good glazed finish. Corn starch made a more opaque mixture but could be made at home.


1582-1585 Infanta Catalina by Alonso Sánchez Coello

Cold Starch for Linen - Take a quarter of a pint, or as much of the best raw starch as will half fill a common-sized tumbler. Fill it nearly up with very clear cold water. Mix it well with a spoon, pressing out all the lumps, till you get it thoroughly dissolved, and very smooth. Next add a tea-spoonful of salt to prevent its sticking. Then pour it into a broad earthen pan; add, gradually, a pint of clear cold water; and stir and mix it well. Do not boil it. The shirts having been washed and dried, dip the collars and wristbands into this starch, and then squeeze them out. Between each dipping, stir it up from the bottom with a spoon. Then sprinkle the shirts, and fold or roll them up, with the collars and wristbands folded evenly inside. They will be ready to iron in an hour. This quantity of cold starch is amply sufficient for the collars and wristbands of half a dozen shirts. Any article of cambric muslin may be done up with cold starch made as above. Poland starch is better than any other. It is to be had at most grocery stores. Cold starch will not do for thin muslin, or for any thing that is to be clapped and cleared. It is very convenient for linen etc., in summer, as it requires no boiling over the fire. Also, it goes farther than boiled starch. Lady's Recipt Book, Eliza Leslie, 1850


1560s Unknown Lady, formerly identified as Mary Queen of Scots holding gloves by an Unknown Artist



1561 Antonis Mor Portrait of Queen Isabella of Spain



1565 Eleanor Benlowes (1545-1565+) attr Steven Van der Meulen (active 1543-1568)



1567 Mary Hill, Mrs Macwilliam by Master of the Countess of Warwick



1585 Elizabeth Sydenham, Lady Drake, (c 1562-1598)



1590 Christina of Lorraine by Santi di Tito (Italian painter, 1536–1603)



1597c Gregoria Habsburg by Jakob de Monte (Viennese painter, 1587-1591)



1599 Sophie von Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1563-1639)



Antonis Mor (1519-1575) Portrait of a Woman c 1550-1577



1605 Lady Arabella Stuart (1575-1615) by Robert Peake



Philipa Rosewell & Married George Speke in 1554



1567 Painted by the Master of the Countess of Warwick



Christina of Denmark 1568



Dame Magdalen Pultney



Diane de France, Duchesse d'Angouleme (1538 - 1619) the natural dau of Henry II, King of France, & his Piedmontese mistress Filippa Duci



Dorothy Bray 1579



Esther Inglis or Langlois (1571-1624)



Frances Clinton (1553-1623) Lady Chandos by Custodis 1589



Frances Walsingham (1567-1633)



Frans Pourbus the Younger (Flemish Baroque Era painter, 1569-1622) Maria Magdalena of Austria



Isabel Pate Wethersone (1555-1597)



Lady Waugh by Larkin



Margaret Browne Layton (or Laton) c 1590-1641 by Gheeraerts, Marcus (the younger) (1561 -1636)



Maria Maddalena of Austria by Justus Sustermans



Mary Thockmorton, Lady Scudmore (d 1632) by Marcus Gheerarts the younger



Master of the Countess of Warwick - Unknown Lady 1567



Perhaps Arbella Stuart



Spanish Lady - French School



1592 Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury by Rowland Lockley



1590s Sovereign Duchess Catherine de Bourbon de Navarra of Albret, Comtesse d'Armagnac and Rodez 1572-1604



1577 Duchess Dorothea Ursula of Württemberg attributed to Eberhard von Backe



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