The Curious Frau

Early Modern German Clothing

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Shoes in 16th century Germany

Durer_shoe_design_smFootwear is just one of those necessary items that everyone needs.

Here is a small collection on on shoes and shomakers from 16th century Germany, including several extant examples and Durer's instructions to his shoemaker.



Images of Shoemaker's Shops and Shoes on the Move


Schuhmacher shop 1570s A nice look at the workings of a shoe makers shop, and the tools used. Several different styles on display and being made, everything from boots to shoes that look like house slippers. It even looks as though the lady on the left, showing the shoe to the customer, has a shoe tree in the shoe to help it keep its shape.
Amman's Schuhmacher shop The shoemaker's shop from Jost Amman's Book of Trades (Standbuch) 1568 in Frankfurt am Main. Another nice look at the shop behind the counter and at the tools on the bench.
Shoes on the move Detail from The Triumph of Maximillian by Altdorfer. These are shoes on the move, to a market perhaps? There look to be about 40 pair of shoes, all about the same size and all in the Kuhlmaulshuh style.


Kuhlmaulschuh - Cow mouth shoes

Kat -23 from Alpirsbach, Textil-und Lederfunde

Kuhlmaulschuh – Cow mouth shoe.

Cow mouth shoe

Shoe is made for the right foot, double soled. 28 cm long, 12 cm wide at top. Height of heel – 5.5 cm, height of side – 2.3 cm. Dated to 1500-1520.

Shoe is totally worn out. Upper leather is in two pieces, front piece and sides are one piece while the heel is an extra section. Front piece and heel have an inner strengthening piece. The top cap (toe section) has a hidden piece of linen to keep the shape of the toe.

Design for a Shoe by Durer, dated 1525-1526. The German single-leaf woodcut, 1500-1550

Durer_shoe_design Outline for a shoe by Durer

The drawing on the left is a pattern prepared by Durer for a shoemaker and bears instructions in Durer's own handwritting. The instructions read:


Thus the shoe is to be cut out, and the ornament on it to be pressed into the wet leather/ I want a pair of lasts completely flat at the heels/ so high the leather at the heel is to extend / double soles.

and on the reverse

These shoes are to have straps and rings / The last of this shoe is to be completely straight and flat on the bottom.

On a seperate piece of paper, the drawing on the right, is a pattern that has been cut out for use by the shoemaker

Two Kuhlmaulschuh from the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich. Photo from Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nurnburg von 1500-1600 pg. 218

These are two different styles of kuhlmaulshuh, both from about 1525.

As you can see from the stitching that is visible on the outside of the uppers, they are not turn shoes. There appears to be a seperate layer of leather that is inside the shoe and wraps around to the outside, forming a piping effect on the edge. The one on the bottom bears the remains of a pressed design very similar to Durer's design.

Two shoes from the Bayerisches Museum

Schlupfschuh - Slip on shoes, slashed and un-slashed

In the Alpirsbach finds there were several examples of slip on shoes, Schlumfschuh, found. Two pair where unslashed and one was slashed. There also is a fine example of slashed shoes in the V&A museum.

Kat-35 Schlupfschuh – Slip on shoe from Alpirsbach, Textil-und Lederfunde

Left foot, Leather, Length – 23cm, Heel height – 5.5 cm, Front piece length – 15.5 cm, Second half of the 1500’s

Slip on shoes

Kat-36 Schlupfschuh – Slip on shoe from Alpirsbach, Textil-und Lederfunde

Right foot, Leather, Length – 20 cm, Front piece length – 13.5 cm, Second half of the 1500’s

Slip on shoes

Kat-38 Schlupfschuh – Slip on shoe with slashing from Alpirsbach, Textil-und Lederfunde

Left foot, Length – 24 cm, Heel height – 5 cm, Front piece length, 14cm, Second half of the 1500’s

Slip on shoes with slashes


Alpirsbach, zur geschichte von Kloster und Stadt ISBN 3-8062-1336-4 Published 2001; Sited works from Textil-und Lederfunde by Ilse Fingerlin, p. 715-817

The German single-leaf woodcut, 1500-1550, Max Geisberg ; rev. and edited by Walter L. Strauss, New York : Hacker Art Books, 1974. Volumes 2, 3 or 4.

Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nurnburg von 1500-1600 by Jutta Zander-Seidel. ISBN 3-422-06067-7. Published 1990



Originally written in 2004