In preparation for a class on women’s headwear in France and the Low Countries that I am teaching at Rowany Festival I have started a count of the frequency of each hat type as represented in art. I thought I might share the preliminary results.
The chart above represents the number of artworks that show each hat type. I did not count the number of hats in each image
I made the count from anthologies of artwork that I have on my shelves, to reduce bias from a particular author. The first three books were:
- Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515
- Flemish and Dutch Art
- Bruges and the Renaissance
I charted each hat type by year, and then grouped them into 5 year periods. This means I can revert back to individual years for future research, including delving into a particular style. I did not count any hennins, although they were well represented in the 1460s, 70s and 80s, as they are outside the scope of this website and I was interested in the growth of transition era style hats.
What does the chart tell us?
As a preliminary analysis I can make the following statements:
- That a formal black hood (eventually known as a French Hood) is the most common item throughout the period surveyed.
- That there is a spike in the wearing of frontlets (the only time I did count hennins was where a frontlet was worn over a hennin as I wanted to chart the rise and fall of this item) but they virtually disappear after 1485, which co-incides with the sharp rise as the (usually) black veil and cap combo appears on the scene.
- That the books I looked at focussed on the first half of the period this survey covered, and so I will need to get more sources to fill in the period after 1510.
Future of the Project
There’s still a couple of books on my shelves to go through, and I may also chart my Clothing of the Low Countries Pinterest Board, as that is likewise a varied sample. Consider this the hypothesis stage, based on a small data sample.
When I’m satisfied with the project I’ll give it a page on this site and update it every so often.