Forget Kim Kardashian, Matthäus Schwarz is the first selfie addicted

Move over dear fashion influencers and aspiring Kardashians! The first and only true fashionista in history is a German man with a serious job that allows him to earn a lot of money, an impeccable sense of style in imagining his outfits to get noticed and at 29 he wasn’t ashamed to pose naked showing (indeed, highlighting) all his imperfections. The name? Matthäus Schwarz.

Matthäus Schwarz - Aged 29 1:3, 8 days - On 1st July 1526 that-was-my-real-figure-from-behind-because-I-had-become-fat-and-large - Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris copiaKim Kardashian by Goude

Forget no-gender clothes, cuffed pants or tattoos because Matthäus Schwarz was chief accountant to Jakob Fugger the Rich, who was a member of a famous merchant family considered as important as royalty in the 16th century. Actually they are known as the “Medici of the North”.

Portrait of Matthäus Schwarz by Christoph Amberger, 1542, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Matthäus Schwarz by Christoph Amberger, 1542, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Born in Augsburg in 1497 by wine merchant Ulrich Schwarz, he was trained as an accountant in Italy, before returning to Germany to work for the Fuggers. Scholars remember him for some of his texts in which shows his personal frame of mind: the Dreierlay Buchhaltung (1518) in which he explains the art of bookkeeping, and the most curious Klaidungsbüchlein, The Book of clothes (1520-1560).

The first describes the techniques for managing accounts basing on what he learned during the apprenticeship in Italy, while the Book of clothes is a sort of guide to the personal style of Matthäus Schwarz that records all the major outfits worn from his birth (backdated) until the funeral of his last boss, Anton Fugger, in 1560. Even his son Veit Konrad Schwarz was indoctrinated to the cult of style, so, in addition to doing the same job of his father and in the same family, he also continued the book for a short time.

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 2 years, 9 months - On 22 November 1499, I suffered cramps for nine hours, so that everyone thought I was dead. I was sewn in and carried to Sant Ulrich. Do the same as me – I moved one foot - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 2 years, 9 months – On 22 November 1499, I suffered cramps for nine hours, so that everyone thought I was dead. I was sewn in and carried to Sant Ulrich. Do the same as me – I moved one foot – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz - Aged 19 years, 7 months, 10 days - On October 2nd, 1516, this was my first outfit back in German style in Augsburg, when I wanted to become a huntsman. © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz – Aged 19 years, 7 months, 10 days – On October 2nd, 1516, this was my first outfit back in German style in Augsburg, when I wanted to become a huntsman. © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz - Aged 19 years, 8 months, 8 days - On 1st October 1516, Working for Jacob Fugger - Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Matthäus Schwarz – Aged 19 years, 8 months, 8 days – On 1st October 1516, Working for Jacob Fugger – Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 21 and 2:3 years - In June 1518 when I wanted to learn fencing. The doublet was silk satin from Bruges. - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 21 and 2/3 years – In June 1518 when I wanted to learn fencing. The doublet was silk satin from Bruges. – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 21 and 1:2 - In August 1518, in this manner, the hose trimmed with silk satin.At this time I greatly enjoyed archery. - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 21 and 1/2 – In August 1518, in this manner, the hose trimmed with silk satin.At this time I greatly enjoyed archery. – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 24 - In February 1521, in a gathering at Steffan Veiten’s wedding - or rather the after-wedding - it was not from silk. - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 24 – In February 1521, in a gathering at Steffan Veiten’s wedding – or rather the after-wedding – it was not from silk. – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz style

I think that the Klaidungsbüchlein is one of the most brilliant apparently nonsense things that a man like Matthäus Schwarz could conceive and create in the 16th Century: a trailblazing Instagram account made with watercolors by prominent local artists, accompanied by two empty scrolls in which Schwarz reported his age, the date, the occasion in which he wore that dress and the detailed description of the fabrics used.

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 20 and 3/4 - In winter 1517, the doublet a half silk, the hose with taffeta, the gown lined. In society with Casius Peuschel, Hanns Schonsperger and Hans Kickhlinger - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 20 and 3/4 – In winter 1517, the doublet a half silk, the hose with taffeta, the gown lined. In society with Casius Peuschel, Hanns Schonsperger and Hans Kickhlinger – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 24 years, 2 and 1/2 months - On 2nd May 1522, I wore a thread caul for the first time. The jerkin was scarlet red, the doublet green velvet (and) scarlet red damask; the hose, green taffeta; the shirt with golden bands - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 24 years, 2 and 1/2 months – On 2nd May 1522, I wore a thread caul for the first time. The jerkin was scarlet red, the doublet green velvet (and) scarlet red damask; the hose, green taffeta; the shirt with golden bands – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 28 - 30th July, 1525, in Innsbruck, at Laux Schaller’s wedding in Schwaz in August. The bonnet embroidered with velvet. This is when I began to be fat and round. - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 28 – 30th July, 1525, in Innsbruck, at Laux Schaller’s wedding in Schwaz in August. The bonnet embroidered with velvet. This is when I began to be fat and round. – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 29 1/3, 8 days - On 1st July 1526 that was my real naked figure - Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 29 1/3, 8 days – On 1st July 1526 that was my real naked figure – Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 29 1/3, 8 days - On 1st July 1526 that was my real figure from behind because I had become fat and large - Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 29 1/3, 8 days – On 1st July 1526 that was my real figure from behind because I had become fat and large – Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Needless to say that the extraordinary feature of the mini booklet (10×16 cm) lies in having “visually recorded” the style of clothes that, as explained by the researcher Ulinka Rublack, were entirely designed by Matthäus Schwarz himself, and then made with the best fabrics he could find on the market, being careful to not exceed in opulence and to not compete with Fugger’s clothes. This creative limit was a challenge for him, but at the same time shows us how the dress-code and dressing in general were aspects that deeply characterized the society of the Renaissance. Indeed, Matthäus Schwarz could communicate his religious and political support in every occasion simply wearing some outfits and especially using some specific colors, like when he wore his colorful dress at Anton Fugger’s wedding in 1527, or the festive clothing for the visit of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, for the Diet of Augsburg in 1518. His attention to appearances was more efficient than any secret political agreement, so that he was ennobled by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1541.

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 30, 101days - 2nd June 1527, in this manner. the doublet from silk satin, a riding gown from camlet, the bonnet edged with velvet, all of this to please a beautiful person, along with a Spanish gown - ©The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 30, 101days – 2nd June 1527, in this manner. the doublet from silk satin, a riding gown from camlet, the bonnet edged with velvet, all of this to please a beautiful person, along with a Spanish gown – ©The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 41 years - On 20th February 1538 When I decided to take a wife, the gown was made with green trims of half silk. - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 41 years – On 20th February 1538 When I decided to take a wife, the gown was made with green trims of half silk. – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 48 years, 29 weeks - On 12 August 1545, this was my armor when we were inspected, around 4,500 [men]… on foot and 500 on horses, who stood in the field near the gallows for 1/4 hours, 71 people in one rank in this colour - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 48 years, 29 weeks – On 12 August 1545, this was my armor when we were inspected, around 4,500 [men]… on foot and 500 on horses, who stood in the field near the gallows for 1/4 hours, 71 people in one rank in this colour – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 56 years - On 9 July, 1553, in camlet, fresh and healthy with God's grace, when Duke Moritz of Saxony was shot with three other princes, and Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg ran away- © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 56 years – On 9 July, 1553, in camlet, fresh and healthy with God’s grace, when Duke Moritz of Saxony was shot with three other princes, and Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg ran away- © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

The First Book of Fashion

As you can easily imagine the Book of clothes it is very fragile and the original one, kept at the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig (there are only two copies of the 18th century, one in Paris and one in Hanover) is never shown to the public, but today anyone can see the infinite variety of clothing worn by Matthäus Schwarz leafing through The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg, by Ulinka Rublack and Mary Hayward, published by Bloomsbury. In addition, for those who want to challenge themselves in the realization of one of the fancier outfits, at the end of the book there is the pattern of the leather and silk festive dress used to impress King Ferdinand I during a visit in 1530, rebuilt by Tony Award winner costume designer, Jenny Tiramani.

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 33 years, 4 months, 10 days - On 1530, to please King Ferdinand during the Imperial Diet, when Emperor Carolus was here - © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz Aged 33 years, 4 months, 10 days – On 1530, to please King Ferdinand during the Imperial Diet, when Emperor Carolus was here – © The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig

Matthäus Schwarz VS Kim Kardashian

Texts like this proves that fashion was an important means to justify and show the status and the role of anybody in the society of the 16th century. Who knows, maybe Kim Kardashian’s selfie book published by Rizzoli will become a rare volume for the fashion and costume history scholars of the future, given that it follows the same hedonistic principles of self-documentation by Matthäus Schwarz.

Obviously I’m joking… or maybe not.
The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg, by Ulinka Rublack and Mary Hayward Kim Kardashian's selfie book published by Rizzoli

 

Alessandro Masetti – The Fashion Commentator

If you want to see the copy (18th century) of the Book of Clothes kept in Hanover, you can download the manuscript  CLICKING HERE.

If you want to see a preview of The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz of Augsburg by Ulinka Rublack e Maria Hayward you can click HERE (Amazon preview, with some images), or HERE (Google Books, without images).

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