The long “tailoring” weekend that started with yesterday’s post on the Sicilian school continues today with a post that focuses on art and fashion and in particular on Late Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Moroni.
In the novel, fictitious fashion designer Salvatore Vassalli takes inspiration for his Neo-Renaissance designs from the details of the costumes in Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca and Parmigianino’s paintings.
The designer also keeps in his studio a print of Moroni’s Tailor because, according to Vassalli, the painting embodies the perfection of menswear’s jackets and suits.
After a powerful Bergamo-based family that protected him fell into disgrace, Moroni moved in the province, focusing on his portraits.
Moroni brought an important change in the art world since, before him, the subjects portrayed were mainly noble men and women.
The painter revolutionised this habit focusing on portraits of the Bergamasque aristocracy, but also of ordinary people, from scholars and professionals such as a captain of a mercenary army, a tailor, an Albanian merchant and a farmer.
Moroni's paid special attention to textiles and clothing - Prospero Alessandri’s portrait presents a gentleman in typical Renaissance attire characterised by some wonderful nuances and fabric details - and psychological penetration.
While Moroni's portraits didn't show the most heroic aspects of life, everyday life and ordinary professions were perfectly represented.
Moroni was a passionate supporter of realism and naturalism, this was the main reason why he focused on the faces and the elegant costumes of his characters and also tried to represent the social and moral values behind his paintings.
His portrait of Isotta Brembati shows the poetess wearing a rather elaborate dress accessorised with multiple necklaces, yet the most important thing in the painting is the intense look in her eyes that evoked Brembati's thoughtful mind and profound intelligence.
Moroni’s Tailor is one of his classic paintings of people "in action" and it also represented an example of social redemption since it showed a young man at work, cutting the fabric with an extremely serious look in his eyes.
The painting hinted at the fact that manual work was not to be considered as something degrading.
The needle was indeed a sort of brush, leaving not traces of paint on a canvas, but colourful and indelible threads in the fabrics.
A tailor creating unique
works of art for the body could have therefore been compared to a painter.
Moroni's tailor seemed to have cultural and moral dignity, elements represented by his pose, composure and clothes.
As a consequence, The Tailor became a sort of symbol for all craftsmen, representing also the future middle classes.
Marco Boschini in his book La carta del navegar pitoresco (1660) stated Moroni was a very talented painter because he had portrayed with great skills a tailor with a more eloquent language than a lawyer's.
Final note for fashion students: try to rediscover the colours, details and embellishments Moroni included in his paintings, I'm sure some of them will provide you with some interesting inspirations.