lovetriangle: (Cherubino)
[personal profile] lovetriangle
This came up on the Ren Faire History Snobs tribe (a wonderful place to be a history snob, BTW).

My friend John, who is quite the history buff, has made an observation that:

"based purely on looking at period portraits. My contention is that the ENGLISH GENTRY and NOBILITY wore exclusively black hats from the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign until at least the mid 1590s. I say this only because I have never seen a portrait of an Englishman in any other color hat. Yes the Germans and Italians and French and Turks wore other colors, but not the English that I can see. It looks like in the early years they were velvet, then later were made of beaver. I would gladly be proven wrong by someone who can provide a definite period source."

He clarifies:
"I don’t claim to have any special insight, but I do own Icon and Dynasties have spent more than one day walking through the long gallery at Montecute (where the NPG displays their Elizabethan portraits) and was struck by the universally of the black hats. Most women don’t wear hats in portraits, but those that do (Lady Kytson comes to mind) also wear black. Of course, tournament costume is different (hence George Clifford’s white chapeau) and the rank and file military seem to wear a kind of tomato read flat cap. Charles Howard (who I assume was mostly bald) wears a white nightcap in several of his pictures, but has a black tall hat either on his head or on the table next to him. In the procession portrait of 1601 none of the men wear hats in the presence of the queen, but all have definite hat hair."

I am absolutely fascinated by this premise and would love to know if the Great LJ Oracle(tm) can prove him wrong!

As one of my favorite examples, here is Queen Mary and Lord Darnley in a lovely black hat with a salmon pink suit (droooooooooooool). 

And a lovely red chapeau, but of course, it's French (on Margarite of Valois)

And a red French Hood on an English woman, but out of the specified period (Mary Fitzalan, c1555)

Well, what say you, Great Oracle! Seen anything that qualifies?

Date: 2007-12-11 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I get really twichy when people make blanket statements that contain absolutes like "never" or "always", especially about historical costuming. There's exceptions to every rule!

Date: 2007-12-11 06:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I know John enough to know that he only strives for better accuracy, and he will not take being proven wrong badly at all. :-)

Date: 2007-12-11 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree! It applies to everything regarding costume:
Eyelets weren't ever re-inforced with rings! - except for the rust rings on 1 of the extant corsets!
Wool was only ever worn 100% for gentry! - except for the two Norwich Tailor's inventory which showed silk for gowns on the local Bacon gentry!
French Hoods are ALWAYS only ever Black, red or White! - Except for the one French Hood (on the Catherine Howard portrait) which is not red, white or black! Its brown!

So, there is ALWAYS an exception to the "rule".

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