The Curious Frau

Early Modern German Clothing

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Guide to REALonline - Digitales Bildarchiv

Introduction to REALonline

REALonline is an online database belonging to the Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters in Austria. I like to think of it as the Austrian version of, except with more color pictures, vastly better indexing and a much faster user interface. It has over 14,000 works of art, many of which have detail images, that are available for viewing online and they have been tagged with catalogue entries in 13 available catalogues.

Some of the index terms in the catalogues are the same as the commonly known German words from Textiler Hausrat, others are NOT the same. Since this is an Austrian database, they call things by completely different words. When you can't find the word you're looking for, find a picture that has the object or clothing item in it. Then look through the extensive detail description available under the Ausführlich text option, using the person's clothing color and gender to narrow down your options.

Also, not all records are thoroughly indexed, for instance there are tons of gollars in this database, but very few records tagged with the gollar catalog record. There are also records which have no descriptive catalog terms and just have artist, location of artwork and date range.

I prepared this help document by computer translating their help page found here , and experimenting with the software.

To better allow you to understand the information displayed on the screen, I've translated the German terms into English, the English translations of the German words are in ().

The home page of REALonline can be found here,

The window will open up into two panes, on the left side will be the search pane, the right is where the results will be displayed. Below is a screen shot of the side bar with labels in English describing what the elements are. See the text below for further explanation.

Search pane options

REALonline side bar

Catalog selector box. To display the terms in the catalog, click the button next to it labeled Auswahlen to see all the individual catalog indexing terms in that catalog. The individual terms are displayed in the box labeled "Search term selector box".

Next, chose your time range, Zietraum? (Time range). Von (From) bis (To).
Some catalog entries have a lot of records, so they can take a while to load if you search for the 1000 years covered in this database. I like to search 50-100 years at a time.

Wievel Information? (Text Information)
Knapp - Tight formatting of the record. No index and catalog information
Mittel - No record details except for Orte.
Ausführlich - Full record details, including all indexing terms

Allgemeines (general): If this option is clicked, the fields Kunstwerk (work of art), Dokumnetation (documentation) and Anmerkungen (comments) are shown.

Teilbilder (Detail pictures) If this option is clicked, if the record has detail pictures, they are shown.


  • Sometimes when you click on an image thumbnail to see the close up view, you will get instead a picture with red and black demons instead with this caption "Leider dürfen wir Ihnen das gesuchte Bild im Internet nicht zeigen"
    The translated caption says "Unfortunately we may not show you the sought picture in the Internet"

  • Some headings in the catalog may not have any materials assigned to them, or if you have restricted your search to a certain date range there may be no results from that date range.
    You will see this message when that happens: "Die von Ihnen gesuchte Merkmalskombination ist leider nicht vorhanden" <
    Translation: "The feature combination sought by you is unfortunately not available"

  • The text box at the bottom of the side bar labeled "Rechtstrunkierung möglich mit "*"." is a search feature within the list of terms inside the catalog. If you type t* it will take you to the beginning of the t's. You can also search for the beginning of a word stem such as granada, but searching for gran*.

  • The buttons labeled "Voriges Bild" (previous picture) or "Nachstes Bild" (next picture) allow you to go to the next picture in the collection, not the next picture in the search results.

  • The persons and objects in the artwork are typically described from left to right, top to bottom.

Catalogues to search REALonline by

Bildnummern (Picture number)
Catalog of the picture ID's. Use this to search for a particular picture ID, or to browse through the collection one number at a time. You can also browse by clicking the buttons labeled "Voriges Bild" (previous picture) or "Nachstes Bild" (next picture) to navigate through the collection.

Standorte (Locations)
Catalog of object locations. Select location of the museum or object that you want to search for from the list in the catalog.

Kunstler (Artist)
Catalog of the artists in the collection, ordered by artist name or workshop membership of the artist that produced it if the actual artist is unknown.

Bildthema (Theme of picture)
The prevailing subject or title of the picture. This is especially useful if ay a particular garment or object commonly appears in a particular type of picture, and you want to find out what the thing is called in the database.

Historische Orte (Historical Place)
Historical place either depicted in the picture or in someway connected to the picture.

Orte (Place)
General places depicted in the picture, such as "altar" or "innenraum" (inside) or "marktplaz" (market place).

Handlungen (Actions)
Activity depicted in the artwork. Can be abstract like birth or death, or a physical activity like "washing".

Personennamen (Name of person)
Name of a person in the artwork, doesn't have to be the main focus of painting, can be a very small person.

Standesbezeichnungen (lit. Standing Labels)
The function, social position or the label assigned to the person because of their vocation. Can also be their physical location within the artwork in relation to others.

Gestik (Gesture)
Gesture or physical position of the people in the artwork, can also contain index terms describing their mental state, the position of their body (arm raised, or arms tied, etc.) or a physical activity.

Kleidung (Clothing)
Clothing worn by the people in the painting, or in some cases, the clothing of the people on the embroidery panel on a person in the artwork. Some records have very detailed clothing terms assigned, some have very simple terms assigned and others have none.

Materielle Objekte ( Material Object)
Physical object in the picture or on a person, also includes buildings, instruments, furniture, food, etc. There are terms in this catalog from the Kleidung and Tiere catalogues.

Tiere (Animal)
Animal or mythical creature represented in the artwork

Useful Words to Search By

These are just a few of the words I've found in the database that returned fun results, there are several thousand others. I recommend using an online translation tool like or a good English-German dictionary to look up words. These terms are either found in the Materielle Objekte or Kleidung catalogue. I've given the German word on the left and the English word on the right.

  • Betschnur = Rosary
  • dekolletiert = dip front style dresses
  • Gebende = veil, can be used to describe either the early styles of womens headdresses that were unstructured veils, or the strip veils on the later structured styles.
  • haube = Any structured style of women's headdress.
  • Bruech = men's underwear
  • Bett = bed
  • Wasserhahn = Container to hold water for washing hands,with a little spigot and basin, sometimes attached.
  • Tischdecke = table cloth

Originally published August 15, 2005