November 2, 2016

Renaissance Fashion in Paper at Livrustkammaren

What to do on a stormy afternoon in Stockholm? Visit a museum, of course! In this case, I went to see the new "Renaissance Fashion in Paper" exhibition at Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury). This exhibition opened in September and I have been waiting for the opportunity to see it (it runs until March, 2017).
The Royal Armoury is a museum dedicated to Swedish history shown through the clothes, uniforms, armour, weapons and carriages of the kings and queens of Sweden. The main part of the museum has free admission, but special exhibitions have a small entrance fee (50 SEK in this case).
Splitscreen showing the portrait on the left used for inspiration for the costume on the right.
"Renaissance Fashion in Paper" features the work of Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave who works with paper as her medium. This exhibition contains 28 life-sized opulent costumes (including hairstyles) made entirely out of hand painted paper. That's correct... paper! The intricate clothing is based on the costumes of the Medici family of Florence during the Renaissance Era.
Splitscreen showing detail.
I have always been interested in the Medici family, so this exhibit was an extra treat. The House of Medici was a powerful family of bankers and merchants in Florence, Italy. They became the hereditary Dukes of Florence, and then Grand Dukes of Tuscany, during their rise to power. The Medici family spawned several popes as well as two queens of France (including the famous Catherine de' Medici).
The Medici family produced popes and...
Their greatest accomplishment was their sponsorship of art... they commissioned many works of art by Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci. If you have ever been to the amazing Uffizi Gallery in Florence, most of the works of art there were donated by the last Medici heiress.
All of this art and power is reflected in their elaborate costumes. While the actual clothing hasn't survived, the artist has instead used the multitude of portraits of Medici family members when creating her costumes in paper. It is a pretty incredible exhibition... especially when you look closely at all of the detail and realize that it is all made out of paper!
The museum is located in the southeast corner of the Royal Palace in Gamla Stan. It is about a 20 minute walk from the Rival Hotel. Otherwise you can take bus 43 or 55 and get off at "Slottsbacken" (10 minute trip). If you are interested in more royal fashion, there is also an exhibition on the royal wedding dresses from the past 40 years in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace (until March 12th, 2017). And click here if you are interested in other museums in Stockholm concentrating on history. Finally... click here to see a list of other autumn/winter art exhibitions in Stockholm.

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