Open Access Article on Sixteenth-Century Spanish Featherworkers by Stefan Hanß

by | Sep 12, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

‘Feathers and the Making of Luxury Experiences at the Sixteenth-Century Spanish Court,’ a new article by Dr Stefan Hanß, has been published open access in Renaissance Studies.

This article charts the activities of featherworkers (plumajeros) at the Habsburg court in Madrid.

Drawing on archival records, objects, and paintings from sixteenth-century Spain, Stefan argues that royal featherworkers’ skills, wit, and intricacy in the transformation of materials established feathers as luxury items. In sixteenth-century Spanish court society, feathers evoked sensory experiences that provoked emotions, staged civility, and materialized courtly hierarchies.

Deploying the concept of ‘material cross-citationality’, the article examines the significance of artisanal interventions to animate and enliven such qualities of feathers, and to turn feathers into luxury experiences.

The combination of in-depth archival research and materials-based analysis, digital microscopy, and remaking experiments allows also for the identification of the materials and costs of featherwork depicted in some of the most iconic portraits of the Habsburg family, situating such visual artefacts within the broader world of material acts of courtly affordances.


The article is available open access here.

To find out more about Stefan’s research on feathers and featherworkers, visit this webpage.


Alonso Sánchez Coello, Infanta Catalina Micaela, 1584/85, oil on canvas, 111 x 91 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, P01139. Wikimedia.