Queen - Snow White
This is the third illustration of a larger new series I am working on titled “Queen”. In this series I explore each of the Disney princess’s potential historically accurate locations and time periods, but decided to portray them as their older selves, ruling queens. I am finding it particularly frustrating placing the princesses in history as it seems to take away much of the magic of the films, as women did not have much power or rights in general until the last century. So for a final twist each queen is embodied through a current inspirational older woman that has used their power to help push the narrative for women’s equality and empowerment. For Snow White I have chosen Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice and co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU. Ginsburg has been a pioneer for gender equality throughout her distinguished career. Her dedication has also laid a foundation for cutting-edge advances in civil liberties and civil rights for LGBT Americans.
Pinpointing the Time Period and Location:
Although the main characters fashion in Snow White is inconsistent as far as time period, solely based on Snow Whites attire I have pinpointed her in the early to mid 16th century (1520-1570) in Bavaria then part of the Holy Roman Empire, which is now part of modern-day South-Western Germany, Austria and the Cheque Republic. Disney’s interpretation of the Grimm fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is set against a beautiful mountain range and forest, and many thinking of the Black Forest region of Germany. Another potential spot slightly west into the Czech-Austrain-German border the haunted Bavarian Forest. The Bavarian Forest seems to be a hotspot bordering the Black Forest, Bavarian Alps and Bohemian forest, where people have again and again had strange visions, or they come out clairvoyant. There are also many haunted ruins and castles and according to legend there have been reports of the “white lady” around the Burg Weissenstein. Some might just think that ruins of these place are just some old stones and brick, but most of these walls have been standing for more than 900 years.
Many believe the tale to based on the real story of Margarete von Waldeck from the mid 16th century or Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Erthal from the mid 18th century. Both had evil stepmothers, were high born ladies, and had a tragic deaths from poisoning at a young age. Maria’s stepmother had a supposed talking mirror and Margarette's father owned many child labored mining camps, where poor lack of nutrition and hygiene made them deformed and have stunted growth to look like dwarves. Both stories are up for debate, but tragic non the less.
Unique Clues to the 16th century and Bavarian location:
-The Evil Queens Castle mimics those of central Europe when Gothic architecture flourished during the high and late medieval periods. Castles in the region to note are Hohenzollern Castle, Liechtenstein Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle.
-In Disney’s Snow White the dwarf’s cottage is adorned with hand carved wooden decor, furniture, and utilities unique to Germanic tradition. Lidded Stien beer mugs, and classic carved German faces. Only off point is the dwarves cottage is seemingly modeled after a traditional English cottage not German, which now has become the staple for the classic disney fairytale cottage.
-The time period is also narrowed down with the yodeling of the dwarfs which was not practiced before the early 16th century, leaving us to believe Snow White’s fairy tale must have been set in the early to mid 1500s.
-Throughout the Middle Ages into the 17th century peasants wore wooden clogs for working in muddy conditions all through out Europe and especially in the Germanic regions just as Snow White did in the opening wishing well scene cleaning.
This time period in Germany was an interesting one for fashion. In the height of the Protestant reformations, German culture was in a time of transition in which women wore gowns of heavy, jewel-toned fabrics made from rich textiles. Germany at the time was a far more conservative than England, France or Italy, and therefore everything is closed up to the neck and the arms are completely covered following city ordinances and sumptuary laws. However German women did find ways to be fashionable using color, dark reds, mustard yellows, black with small blue accents seem to be very poplar.
Particularly in the Germanic states a fashion arose for assembling garments in alternating bands of contrasting fabrics, slashes, embroidery, applied trims, and other forms of surface ornamentation. The tall, narrow lines of the late Medieval period were replaced with a wide silhouette. The gowns featured the iconic slashed sleeves that were the center of attention, and were puffed, slashed, cuffed, and turned back to reveal contrasting linings. In particular to Germanic corsets, ties were often fashioned in the front with a higher waist line then the rest of Europe at the time. The necklines were often high and circularly shaped in an effort to frame the face, while the hair was pulled back showcasing a prominent forehead, with a headpiece for extra coverage and/or fitted with an ovular Barrett decorated in feathers and/or pearls. Large gold chains were worn on the neck line .
For Snow White I gave her a tight-waisted gown with a high-necked chemise with a wide gold bands at the neck. A front-laced gown in the Germanic fashion, with broad bands of contrasting materials, tight sleeves, slashed shoulders underneath and over almost cap like looped outer sleeves. I put her hair pinned up in a jeweled netting/cap/caul and covered by a Berett (a round cap/hat with a brim).
The Story for those Unfamiliar:
Snow White is the heroine of Disney’s very first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Based on a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, the story is about a princess whose evil step-mother REALLY doesn’t like her because of some serious narcissism issues. The step-mother tries to have Snow killed, but instead she holes up with some very messy dwarves who are in desperate need of a mother/housekeeper. As an unliberated woman, she cleans their house and they decide they like her. Meanwhile, the evil Queen/step-mother, who is in dire need of counseling, disguises herself as an old woman and tries to poison Snow with an apple. Everyone thinks Snow is dead, but then a random Prince with an obvious fetish for necrophilia wanders along, kisses Snow, and she comes back to life. The Prince takes her off to his castle, where no doubt she can handle the cleaning for him.
The Grimm’s Brothers version also peeks interest, especially the ending. After snow white dies from the poison apple the dwarves are unable to revive her, so they put her in a glass coffin, embossed with her name and birth. Many years later, a prince comes to the house and sees the dead girl. And he falls in love with her. Which, you have to admit, is kind of weird.
He asks to buy the girl from the dwarves, but they refuse. He tells them that he will die if he can’t see her every day for the rest of his life. As his servants are carrying her home, they drop her, and the jolt effectively performs the Heimlich maneuver on Snow White. A chunk of poison apple comes flying out of her mouth and she returns to life.
That’s right—there is no kiss. Just Snow White getting dropped.
Snow White and the prince get married, and the evil step-mother is invited to the wedding. Here’s my favorite part. When she sees Snow White, alive and marrying a prince, she is “so petrified with fright that she could not budge. Iron slippers had already been heated over a fire, and they were brought over to her with tongs. Finally, she had to put on the red-hot slippers and dance until she fell down dead.”
Germanic women of the time to note:
Joanna of Castile (Joanna the Mad)
Margaretha von Waldeck
Elisabeth of Austria
Queen - Rapunzel - "Tangled"
This is the second illustration of a larger new series I am working on titled “Queen”. In this series I explore each of the Disney princess’s potential historically accurate locations and time periods, but decided to portray them as their older selves, ruling queens. I am finding it particularly frustrating placing the princesses in history as it seems to take away much of the magic of the films, as women did not have much power or rights in general until the last century. So for a final twist each queen is embodied through a current inspirational older woman that has used their power to help push the narrative for women’s equality and empowerment. For Rapunzel I have chosen Ellen who has been an outspoken LGBTQ and women’s rights activist and who has consistently used her public platform to highlight inequality.
Pinpointing the Time Period and Location:
I found many different opinions on the exact pinpoint for the historical time period and even different locations of Disney’s movie “Tangled”. Even though Disney’s Tangled has many solid arguments for 1780-1840’s, including a Mozart reference, I believe the sole purpose is so Rapunzel can make a guest appearance in Disney’s Frozen. If the producers wanted to place it in the 1780s or 1840s they failed miserably. Rapunzel's attire appears to be something designed to evoke a Disney feel as opposed to something that can be traced to a single fashion or period. The fashion in "Tangled" is just quite frankly all over the place, showcasing medieval wear, renaissance dresses, peasant Nordic clothing, Napoleonic attire, 19th century British military uniforms and modern hair styles. While the Queen’s dress can be pretty clearly traced to continental Europe during the eighteenth century, her husband’s fashion is caught in the sixteenth century. The mother queen's dress then makes her the only “main character” with a fashion that actually coincides with the dates Disney claimed to set for the film.
The companion book, “The Art of Tangled” says of the Kingdom of Corona: “The world is from a storybook: It is thus familiar and, although fundamentally ‘European,’ not located in any one country in particular.” Even though “Rapunzel” is most commonly known as a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grim first published in 1812 it was not the original. Even the Grimm Brothers' story is an adaptation of the previous German fairy tale “Rapunzel” by Friedrich Schulz published in 1790. The Italian tale called “Petrosinella” is the earliest published book of this tale known to exist, written by Giambattista Baslie in 1634 in his collection of fairy tales titled “Lo cunto de li cunti” (The Story of Stories). Because of this I decided to pick the era of the original tale during the late 16th century and placed it in Northern Italy (Venetian territories) along the bordering kingdoms of Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Austria.
Culture and Trade During the 16th Century:
Italy in the 16th century was made of Papal States and territory kingdoms. Germanic influences are very prevalent in the film as many German kingdoms bordered Northern Italy, but sadly were mostly landlocked, which makes the Venetian territories of the time perfect for placing the Kingdom of Corona on the water. The city of Venice was the center of this this territory and a mecca for foreign trade from India, China and the Ottoman Empire. In suit the nobility and royalty used fashion as a means of displaying their enhanced social status, their political power and their prestige.
Women's Roles and Powers During the 16th Century:
Venice’s widely diverse population cultivated a broader-minded and more tolerant society that granted women alternate means of establishing themselves compared to the rest of Europe. As a whole, however, women still played a relatively ambiguous role in Venetian society of this time: although present everywhere, they were not publicly acknowledged or appreciated. The Catholic Church played a major role in defining the role and status of Italian women during the sixteenth century. Women were widely viewed as emblems of Catholic morality, serving primarily as matriarchs of the domestic household. Six of the most significant traits prescribed by men include: Chastity, Silence, Modesty, Reticence, Sobriety, and Obedience. Domestic crafts such as sewing and weaving were recommended, to keep young girls' minds away from sinful thoughts or avoid any other danger of extreme boredom. Noble Venetian women at this time were kept in a form of domestic clausura, so unfortunately Rapunzel might have gone from one "tower" to another. They did not leave the home of their male relative, be it father, brother or husband, except to attend appropriate social events or church services, and even then, they traveled heavily veiled and in private gondolas from doorstep to doorstep. However there were many influential women of the time on politics, fashion and the arts, as well as painters, writers and scholars.
Some Influential Women of the 16th century:
Eleanor of Toledo who is credited with being the first modern first lady to serve as regent of Florence during the absence of her spouse and comanded much influence on her husband and the cultured arts.
Artemisia Gentileschi born on the cusp of the Baroque era, created highly dramatic, at times blood-ridden scenes that some consider to be more striking than any painted by woman before.
Isabella d'Este was the esteemed Marchesa of Mantua for almost her entire life, and is known as one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance. Her influence and wise rule made her a major cultural and political figure.
Sofonisba Anguissola was one of the first great female painter of the Renaissance.
Women's dress consisted of fitted garments worn underneath a belted sleeveless outer vest/dress, called a giornea, which reached the ground and covered their feet. Men and women would wear these outer clothes with detachable and often slashed sleeves of varied designs. Contrasting fabrics, embroidery, applied trims, and other forms of surface ornamentation remained prominent. Wealthy people would own many different pairs of sleeves to match with their overcoats and dresses. By the late-century 16th century a tall, narrow line with a V-shaped waist was back in fashion. The corset or bodice was drawn down deeply and a bejeweled belt would lay over the hips to accentuate this point . The cone-shaped hoop skirt first appeared around the middle of the 16th century accentuated the hips and formed a hourglass figure. Veils, pearls and large lace collars were also very prominant in high society.
Castle Architecture of the 16th Century:
As far as the architecture and placement of the castle of Corona similar gothic styles have been found all over the region of what used to be Prussia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, France, Germany and Romania. It's obviously a combination of many European countries, but still follows a prominent Gothic and Baroque Style. These castles although very similar in style were built over the spans of a 1000 years. In the mid 16th century the Venetian boarders stretched all the way a crossed the now Croatian and Slovenian coast lines where i have place Corona. The most similar castle on a island to that of Disney's Corona seems to be Mont St. Michael in France dating back to the 11th century. However Gothic/Boroque castles of the Kingdoms of Hungry, Austrian and Venetian territories from 1000A-1872AD definitely win as far as the castle architecture itself goes.
One thing I noticed was that the tower roofs of the Corona castle are not a standard cone gothic roofs but rather domed with a a point on top. Baroque architecture begun in late 16th-century in Italy, and took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church. Basically it combined classic Roman arches and columns, middle eastern domes of the ottoman Empire and and Germanic gothic castles. It was characterized by new explorations of form, light and shadow, and dramatic intensity. Common features of Baroque architecture included gigantism of proportions; a large open central space where everyone could see the altar; twisting columns, theatrical effects, including light coming from a cupola above; dramatic interior effects created with bronze and gilding; clusters of sculpted angels and other figures high overhead; painted architectural details and figures on the walls and ceiling, to increase the dramatic and theatrical effect. Sounds like Rapunzel would be happy with this as she loves to paint.
Manegeries and Exotic Animals As Pets During the 16th Century:
Lastly animals such as Rapunzel's iguana friend Pascal were considered exotic, valuable, and difficult to keep. By the end of the fifteenth century, during the Renaissance period, the Italian aristocracy, wealthy patricians and clergymen, eventually began to collect exotic animals at their residences on the outskirts of the cities. The role played by animals within the gardens of Italian villas expanded at the end of the sixteenth century, So Rapunzel having a pet iguana could actually be pretty accurate as it showed a sign of wealth and power.
Queen - Jasmine - "Aladdin"
This is the first illustration of a larger new series I am working on titled “Queen”. In this series I will explore each of the Disney princess’s potential historically accurate locations and time periods, while keeping many fun familiarities of the original Disney animation. For this series I have decided to illustrate them not as princesses but as their older selves, ruling queens. For a final twist each queen is embodied through current inspirational older women that have used their power to help push the narrative for women’s equality and empowerment. For Jasmine I have picked the youngest of my celebritoral figures, the one and only Beyoncé as the sultana of Agrabah.
I found many different opinions on the exact pinpoint for the historical time period and even location of Disney’s movie “Aladdin”. I eventually settled on the 12th-13th century’s near the end of the Abbasid period, which I go over below.
A woman of the Abbasid period, such as an Arabian sultana (queen), would wear clothing consisting of a sirwal (loose stringed pants) and qamis (long shirt) under a long robe belted with a sash or cummerbund, and a similarly-colored head covering, all covered by one or more long head- and face-veils for outdoor wear but not needed for social wear within the harem. The head wrap was similar to the modern “Al-Amira” style, with a decorative fillet (headband with stones) tied on top. Turquoise and green fabrics were worn by members of the prophet Muhammad's family, men and women in public so that due respect could be paid to them. Abbasid women were known for being very decorative so I added pearls in her plated hair, golden thick bangles, decorative henna fingertips and a turquoise jewel on her fillet.
As far as Jasmines favorite pet friend Raja, exotic animals where seen as external signs of wealth and instruments of power. Possessing animals from distant lands demonstrated the extent of the Caliph’s/Sulton’s influence and was often the fruit of regular relations with other kingdoms. In the Abbasid period, the richest testimony is from the year 907, when the Caliph Al-Muqtadir of Baghdad was visited by ambassadors of the Byzantine Empire. During their visit to the caliphs palace, the Greek envoys were led to the wild-animal pen where they could observe four elephants, two giraffes and a hundred or so “ferocious beasts” (lions, tigers and panthers). So it would not be far off for Jasmine to train and have many exotic animals, including baby tigers, within the palace as a Sultana.
I based this illustration in the 12th-13th centuries based on the animation’s line from “Prince Ali” where he was mentioned as fighting “galloping hordes”, most likely referencing the Mongol Hordes which invaded the Arab territories of the time and later in 1258 ransacked Baghdad, which ended what was called the Islamic Golden Age. Another clue was when Genie, during the animated film, mentioned the female protagonist and storyteller in “One Thousand and One Nights” Scheherezade. Scheherezade was first mentioned during the 10th century and so I wanted my depiction of Jasmine to be placed after this period but before the Mongols invaded.
As far as the location some say the Arabian Peninsula, others the Persian Gulf, India and some say even Western China. Even though the original folklore is based in Western China along the Silk Road much of the animation is based on the previous movie “The Thief of Baghdad” as well as medieval Baghdad itself, which was the capital during the Abbasid Empire. Roy Disney expressed his concerns for setting the film in Iraq because of the Gulf War during the animation process, so the creators decided to change the original setting from Baghdad to the fictional Agrabah.
Islamic culture at the time assimilated the scientific, artistic and fashion of the civilizations they had overrun, including the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Phoenician civilizations. Because of this melting pot, it does explain within reason, why so many Indian, Persian ect… influences are seen throughout the Disney animation, but how it still remained an Islamic city. Agrabah being a fictional city probably could have existed somewhere in between the Persian Gulf and Thar Desert in Rajasthan India. Agrabah is said to be the combination of the Indian City of “Agra” and the Arabic city of “Baghdad”. The taj mahal, which seems to have been a big influence on the animator’s style of architecture for Agrabah’s palace, sits just outside the city of Agra in India.
After the 9th century the caliphates (rulers of Abbisid empire) began to hold less power and became viewed as more of a religious obligation. This fragmentation of the Abbasid caliphate caused the rise of multiple sultunates and emirates gaining more power throughout the empire. This could explain a city existing in the modern day Pakistan, Iran or northern India that was ruled by a powerful sultanate rather then caliphate, and explain the more Indian taj mahal style architecture while still remaining within the Arabic territories and culture.