Ca 1470-1500, portraits of Caterina Sforza

And for my next trick, we dial back the clock a hundred and fifty or so years, and travel to Italy.  For a new project concerning famous swordswomen through the ages, I’ll be presenting about the life, times, and possible combat style of Caterina Sforza (1463-1509) of Forli and Imola.

I want to make clear up front, I am not dressing as Caterina Sforza, or recreating a dress from one of her portraits with any precision.  But I am going to make a dress representative of the fashions of her time, place, and approximate status.  (Mine will not be made of such nice materials, I’m sure.)  So, to start, here are some portraits of Sforza wearing non-mythological attire.  This is sort of tricky, as there are a lot of mythological portraits known or suspected to be of her, and amateur and professional art historians seem fond of guessing that all kinds of portraits are of her, and sometimes portraits are labeled of her apparently just because they have a sword in them or a woman named Caterina.


Caterina Sforza in a blue gamurra, white camicia, black panel behind red lacing.
Caterina Sforza, left, wearing red gamurra and white brocade giornea, with her daughter (in blue).
In gold-trimmed pink gamurra with white camicia and black panel behind lacing.
Identity less totally certain. Pinkish dress with white lace trim, not gamurra style.
Probably Sforza. Red gamurra, white camicia, black center front panel.
Caterina Sforza, 1490. White lace-trimmed camicia, dark gamurra with herringbone-laced sleeves and spiral-laced front closure.
Ca 1470-1500, portraits of Caterina Sforza

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