Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ruff Times

I am always intrigued by how certain fashion defines an era. I adore the fashion of the 18th century, but the austere aesthetic of the 16th and 17th centuries fascinates me even more.

The first time I saw a double cartwheel ruff and a fur hat in a painting of an ancestor, I was shocked. I am no fashion maven, but the somber appearance of the black robes, chains, undulating stiff cloth propping up sullen faces and gloves in hand ready to strike the insolent commoner was not the most inviting look. Yikes.

The ruff fell out of fashion at the beginning of the 17th century in most of Western Europe in favor of collars and bands, except for Holland, where it was worn for many more years. It appears the Swiss were taking the fashion tips from Amsterdam and not Paris.

As I have done research, the style appears over and over again in paintings of my ancestors and of other prominent Swiss families from the period. I have grouped a sampling of the fashion below in all its puritanical and repressive glory. Enjoy them, just not too much. 


Barbara von Wattenwyl, painted 1621.


Margaretha Fries, painted in 1670. Photo courtesy of the Swiss National Museums.


Helena von Wyttenbach, painted in 1638. Photo courtesy of the Burgerbibliothek Bern.


Salomé von Erlach, painted in 1623. Photo courtesy of the Burgerbibliothek Bern.


Magdalena Nägeli, painted in 1622. Photo courtesy of the Burgerbibliothek Bern.


Regula Hirzel, painted in 1583. Photo courtesy of the Swiss National Museums.


Lady of Zürich, painted in 1650.  Photo courtesy of the Swiss National Museums.


Maria von Manuel, painted 1638.  Photo courtesy of the Swiss National Museums.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Aristocratic Bern Aesthetic

When I was younger I spent many summer's traveling around Switzerland and visiting my older relatives in Bern, Denens and Geneva. It struck me that many of the interiors were all decorated in a similar old world style.

While I would love to have photos of the those interiors now, I think the photos below (all from the extensive © Burgerbibliothek archive) showcase that style well, especially that of the old families of Bern.

The subsequent photos, taken most likely in the post WWII period, are all from the de Tavel villa on Schosshaldenstrasse in Bern. The de Tavel villa interestingly is on the same street as Bürenstock, the manor home of the de Büren family for many years.

When I saw these photos I was struck at how familiar it all felt. The style of furniture, the fabric patterns, the walls adorned with artwork, and the way family portraits were suspended from crown moldings.









As an aside, the de Tavel family is deeply significant to the de Büren family not so much for an association with Bern, but rather one in the canton of Vaud. The Château of Denens was acquired through marriage with the de Tavel at the end of the 18th century, and is the only castle that is still in family hands today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Magasin Agricole



In conducting some research today I found a very interesting reference to my great-great-grandfather, Henri de Büren in the March 19th, 1870 edition of the Feuille d'avis de Neuchâtel .

His name is associated with an ad announcing the opening of a shop for local farm products in Neuchâtel. At the time he was the President of Agricultural Society of Neuchâtel, so my guess is it was a store front for all the best products from the region, not just those from the castle of Vaumarcus.


The ad follows in both French and English:



Magasin agricole et débit de lait

faubourg du Lac 6

Le soussigné a l’honneur d’informer le public de la ville de Neuchâtel qu’il ouvrira dans le courant du printemps un magasin où les personnes qui voudront bien lui accorder leur clientèle, trouveront à un prix raisonnable et bien conditionnés, tous les produits de la campagne, tels les fruits, légumes, lait, beurre, miel, oeufs, vins en bouteilles, etc., etc

Le débit du lait commencera dès le 1er avril prochain, au prix de 26 centimes le pot, mesure nette, rendu à domicile, et de 25 centimes pris au magasin. Ce lait est garanti parfaitement franc de tout écremage. Les personnes qui seraient disposés à en prendre dès la date sus-indiquée sont priées de bien vouloir s’annoncer jusqu’à fin mars courant, auprès de Mad. Elise Junod, faubourgh du Lac, n° 6, 1er étage, en indiquant leur domicile et la quantité de lait qu’elles désirent prendre. Les comptes seront réglés au mois.

L’ouverture du magasin pour les autres produits sera annoncée par un avis ultérieur.

Henri de BUREN

Vaumarcus, 3 mars 1870



Farm Products and Fresh Milk

Faubourg du Lac 6

The undersigned has the honor to inform the public of the city of Neuchâtel that he will open a shop in the spring where people who are willing to grant him their business, will find reasonably priced and well packaged local farm products, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, butter, honey, eggs, bottled wine, etc., etc.

Fresh cream topped milk will be available from April 1st, priced at 26 cents a jar, net measurement, for home delivery, and 25 cents in the shop. Interested parties who would like delivery from the date above are kindly requested to inform Mrs. Elise Junod, faubourgh du Lac, No. 6, 1st floor, by the end of the month, indicating their home address and the amount of milk they desire. Accounts will be settled monthly.

The opening date of the shop for the local farm products will be announced by an upcoming notice.

Henri de BUREN

Vaumarcus, March 3rd, 1870



The street of Faubourg du Lac, taken by Victor Attinger a very famous Swiss editor  in 1918.


A Google map view of Neuchâtel, with the shop location denoted by the "A".

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

17th Century Epithalamia

In conducting research tonight on e-rara.ch, an online resource for digitized rare book from Swiss libraries, I found two 17th century de Büren family related epithalamia. An epithalamia is a song or poem in honor of a bride and groom on the their wedding day.

The first was from the 1637 wedding of Albert von Erlach and Anna von Büren. The second was from the 1647 wedding of Nicolas Dachselhofer and Barabara von Büren.

Both epithalamia are in Latin, French and German. I am including images from them below and hope to get a translation of the poems and songs soon.






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