Friday, 6 January 2012

A seventeenth century widow’s coif

 A rare survival of a widow’s black coif in is the Mode Museum, Antwerp. This is a simple garment showing the exaggerated widow’s peak over the forehead, which had been around for a couple of centuries. Henry VII’s mother complained about it, “beakes be in no manner of wise used” however used they continued to be. Cunnington, P. and Lucas, C. (1972) Costume for Births, Marriages and Deaths has a portrait of Henrietta Maria from 1649-50 (plate 30b) showing her wearing a veil where the scalloped lace of the veil imitates the widow’s peak. Below is a portrait of Claudia de' Medici, Archduchess of Austria (1604-1648) clearly showing the widow’s peak.


  1. I'm really enjoying your blog :-) I'm a 16th/early17thc embroiderer myself. Lots of interesting articles!

  2. Thank you so so much! I'm researching 1660's Paris and I've been trying to figure out what is meant by references to the "widow's bandeau." It's mentioned, but never precisely described. Your post is the first I've found with images. Now that I've seen your examples, I'm recognizing versions of it in other portraits of the period.