Friday 29 January 2016

Women’s Hoods 1600-1690

Fig 1 From Hollar's Ornatus
In the first half of the seventeenth century the main linen headwear for women was the coif. The coif came in several forms but most were close fitting. Hoods were around from the beginning of the century and, from the 1640s to the 1680s, they slowly, but never completely, replaced the coif both as a fashion item and among the lower classes. 

Another name for a hood can be chaperon, and this is the term Cunnington (1972) uses to refer to them. Cotgrave draws the term very wide, defining it thus ‘Chaperon, a hood, or French hood (for a woman); also any hood, bonnet, or lettice cap.” (Cotgrave, 1611) The OED has several references to chaperons from the first half of the 17th century including, most explicitly, this from 1623 “Their White Hoods or Chapperons.” (OED, 2016)

These earlier hoods may be different to the later ones. There are a few of survivals of early hoods, two in the V&A have been dated to 1600-1625, and 1600-1630,  both have scrolling blackwork embroidery, as did some of the coifs of that period. Another hood in the V&A collection is dated to 1610-1620 and is of linen with insertion work at the seams and a bobbin lace edging, a detailed examination and pattern has been produced for this. (Lucas, 2011) There are also two hoods, that Janet Arnold took patterns from, in the Gallery of Costume at Manchester, they are dated between 1610 and 1625, one is of linen (accession no. 2003.73) and the other of fustian (accession no. 2003.74. (Arnold, 2008)  In wear these might well look like the hood won in Vermeer’s painting the Procuress, 1656, they have no gathering at the back but are simply worn loose. There is also a hood in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, this they date to c.1640 and, it is very fine, almost transparent, cotton with a bobbin lace edging. There is very little further information on it, but the photograph of the back view gives an indication of the construction, which is very unlike that of the earlier hoods. 

The hood, like the coif, comes in various types, in later examples it is usually gathered at the back. Some early depictions show this style as dark and worn with winter wear. There are two like this in Hollar’s 1640 work Ornatus Muliebris, or the Habits of Englishwomen. One depicts a lady in full winter mode with a face mask, cape or shawl and a muff as well as her hood, in the second example the lady has a muff, and her hood appears to have very large ties at the front.(Fig. 1) Hollar’s series of the Four seasons which date from 1644 show, in the full length versions, both Autumn and Winter wearing hoods, the Winter appearing to have a light coloured lining to the hood and a lighter hood/coif being worn underneath. The three quarter length seasons also show Autumn and Winter with hoods. Hollar’s two works from later in the 1640s, his Theatrum Mulierum and Aula Veneris, which depict dress of women across Europe, Hollar was very good at picking up regional differences in clothing, have only three women with hoods. Two of these are English, a noble woman and a gentlewoman. The third, which gives a good rear view of a hood is dated 1648 and is a lady from Brabant, and here it looks as though a veil maybe being worn over it.

All the above are dark fabrics, being worn as outerwear, presumably instead of a hat. In English images this dark fabric type may be seen in Marmion’s Smell in his Four Senses series of c.1653 , and being worn two women on the servants’ side of the 1671 painting of the Titchborne Dole, while the servant in front of them wears a white coif, and the ladies of the family have no head covering. Another is the portrait of Elizabeth Cromwell, mother of Oliver, who died in 1654, it is difficult to see in the image whether her widow’s peak is worn as part of a coif under the hood, or as part of a veil over the hood.  

However hoods were also worn in light fabrics, and the earliest English depiction of this may be William Dobson’s portrait of his second wife Judith, which is dated to 1635-40. There is a later enamel portrait of Barbara Palmer, Lady Castlemaine in a hood, it has a broad lace edging and the fastening bow is obviously fixed to the linen rather than the lace, so that the lace goes all the way around the face, this has to have been heavily starched or wired to keep its shape. Even young girls wore these hoods, and in the c.1670 portrait of the Mason children the girls appear to be wearing some form of biggin or coif underneath. 

By 1688 hoods seem to have overtaken coifs as headwear. Laroon’s wonderful Cries of London published in that year has 28 illustrations of women from the lowest classes in London, of these 18 are wearing hoods, and only 3 obvious coifs. (Shesgreen, 1990) There are 6 where it is difficult to determine whether a coif or hood is being worn, and there is one headwrap. To pick up on the dark/light question 9 of the hoods in Laroon are dark and 9 are light. However by the time hoods had reached the lowest classes, fashion in headwear among the elite had moved on to top knots, the commode, the tour, the fontange, etc. (McShane & Backhouse, 2010), as shown in the super cap of the doll Lady Clapham from the 1690s. The hood, where it survived, had mostly morphed into a cap with the ties becoming long lappets as in this example from c1690 in the Metropolitan Museum, there is something similar in the Bowes Museum but unfortunately there is no detailed image online. 
Where the hoods in Hollar are outdoor wear, they may be worn over a coif. When you get to Larroon, 4 of the dark hoods and 2 of the light hoods are being worn with a hat over the top, and not necessarily in winter as two are wearing a straw hat over a hood. Likewise John Michael Wright’s 1676 painting of Mrs Salesbury with her grandchildren depicts her wearing a high “sugar loaf” style hat over a dark hood, and an unknown artist’s depiction of Catherine Davenant in the 1660s shows her wearing something similar.

Fig 2. Detail from Steen's 1658 painting
In accounts it can be difficult to work out the difference between the terms hood and coif. There is an assumption that the coif will be white linen, while the hood will be a sturdy fabric in a range of colours, this is not always the case.  The 1641-2 household accounts of the Marquis of Hertford shows the daughters of the family receiving hoods, Lady Jane got 2 white sarcenet hoods at 3s 6d each, and Lady Francis 2 black taffeta hoods also at 3s 6d each, they also received hoods with no material listed, which were cheaper at 2s 4d each. (Morgan, 1945) These upper class hoods were obviously of silk, but there were cheaper ones around. Richard Riddings, a chapman, had in 1680 a dozen calico hoods for children at 2d each, he also had in stock three black serge coifs at 8d each. (Spufford, 1984)  The black serge coifs sound as though they might be hoods rather than coifs, having said that a Dutch survival in the museum at Antwerp is much more coif like in design, than hood like. Another chapman Wlliam Mackerell in 1642 had large blue coifs at 5½d each and smaller blue coifs for 3d each, perhaps these were more like the Antwerp coif.  

Fig 3 - Detail from Laroon's Merry Song
When looking at the possible construction of these later hoods, lacking a survival we need to look at illustrations. Most of the English illustrations of hoods are linked above, however the best source of middle and lower class illustrations of mid to late 17th century hoods are in Dutch genre paintings. Below are a series of links, organised by date from c1650 to c1678. This is by no means a comprehensive listing. On the construction, those with a rear view as in de Hooch’s 1658 painting (Fig. 2) and Hollar’s lady of Brabant, show the gathering at the back.  This gathering can also be seen in two sideways views, Metsu’s 1658painting and Roestraten’s 1678 painting. The ties at the front of the hoods range in size from narrow ribbons, to huge things that look as though the whole side of the hood extends down. In Lady Castlemaine’s portrait there are narrow red ribbon ties, similar red ribbons are used on the white hood in Ter Borch’spainting the Letter (1660-5), and Metsu’s 1662-3 painting. In several of Laroon’s drawings such as Old Satin, Crab, merry new, song (detail right), poor Jack etc., the ties are large. It is often difficult to tell if the hoods with large ties are shaped hoods, or just a fabric scarf knotted under the chin.

The decline in the hood as a fashion item can be seen through the fashion engravings that were published in France between 1675 and 1700, and a discussion of their usefulness can in found in Davis (2014). The hood can still be seen the Jean LePautre engraving Dame en habit d’ete of 1676-8, but by the 1680s  it has become more like a large scarf covering the tall fashionable headdress underneath, as in the 1689 Femme de qualite allant incognito par la ville, and this 1682-6  French fashion plate  by Nicholas Bonnart, La Belle Plaideuse.

Dutch genre painting with hoods
Woman peeling an apple (c.1650) by Gerard Ter Borch (1617-81) An almost transparent hood worn with a shoulder cape/rail
The procuress (1656) by Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) Very loose, ungathered hood, like the earlier English survivals.
Girl drinking with men 1658 by Pieter de Hooch 1629-84. A good rear view of the hood showing the gathers.
The doctor’s visit (1658-62) by Jan Steen c.1625-1679. There are lots of different versions of paintings with this title by Jan Steen. This one is chosen because the patient is obviously wearing something like a forehead cloth under the hood. The English author Fynes Moryson commented in 1617, “...such crosse-clothes or forehead clothes as our women use when they are sick.” It is interesting to note that this tight cloth across the forehead also appears in van Hoogstraten’s painting of a doctor’s visit – link below,
A Girl Receiving a Letter, (c.1658)  by Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667. A sideways on view. The way the front of the hood is rolled, and the gathering at the back can be seen. She also has a little linen shoulder rail/cape.
Musical Party (1659) by Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667. This lady’s hood appears to be falling off the back of her head.
The letter (1660-5) by Gerard Ter Borch (1617-81) You have to use the zoom to see a loose dark hood over tied light hood.
The doctor’s visit (1660s) by Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667. As in the Steen and the Hoogstraten paintings of a doctor’s visit, the patient has some form of forehead cloth.
Young woman composing music. (1662-3) by Gabriel Metsu, 1629-1667. There is a dark veil on the back of the head, worn over a white hood. The hood appears to be fastened with a red ribbon.
Effects of intemperance (1663-5) by Jan Steen c.1625-1679. A tied hood
The Life of Man (c1665)  by Jan Steen c.1625-1679. The woman in the middle wears an untied hood.
Woman reading letter (c. 1665) by Gabriel Metsu 1629-1667. The lady wears a close hood, while her maid wears a coif
The proposal (1665-70) by Gerritsz van Roestraten (1630–1700) Large ties to the hood.
Girl peeling apple. (pre 1667) by Gabriel Metsu 1629-1667. The hood is left loose and untied, the length of what in later headwear will turn into lappets can be seen.
Feast of St Nicholas (1665-8) by Jan Steen c.1625-1679. Here as well as the fabric at the front of the hood being rolled back, the excess fabric at the side appears to form a roll.
The doctor’s visit (c.1667), by Samuel van Hoogstraten 1627–1678. see note under Steen’s Doctor’s visit above
Baptism “Soo de ouden soungen, so pypen de jongen” (1669) by Jan Steen c.1625-1679. In the three women by the cradle there are 3 types of headwear,  the woman in the middle wears a hood.
Two women by a cradle (c1670) by Samuel van Hoogstraten 1627–1678. The painting shows the mother of the newborn in what can best be described as a dressing gown, her hood is untied, while her visiting friend appears to have several layers of hood and coif.
Woman making pancakes 1678 by Gerritsz van Roestraten (1630–1700) A side view of a hood, use the zoom for the detail, you can see that it is gathered at the back 

Arnold, J., 2008. Patterns of Fashion 4 : the cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women. London: Macmillan.
Cotgrave, R., 1611. A Dictionarie of the French and English tongues. London: Islip.
Cunnington, C. W. & Cunnington, P., 1972. Handbook of English costume in the seventeenth century. 3rd ed.. London: Faber.
Davis, E., 2014. Habite de qualite: seventeenth century French fashion prints as sources for dress history. Dress, 40(2) pp.117-44
Lucas, A., 2011. Linen Hood , London: V&A Publishing, 2011, pp.120-123. In: Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns, vol.1. London: : V&A Publishing pp.120-123.
McShane, A. & Backhouse, C., 2010. Top knots and lower sorts:print and promiscuous consumption in the 1690s. In: M. Hunter, ed. Printed Images in Early Modern Britain: Essays in Interpretation. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 337-58.
Morgan, F. C., 1945. Private purse accounts of the Marquis of Hertford, Michaelmas 1641-2. Antiquaries Journal, 25 pp.12-42.
OED, 2016. "chaperon, n.". OED Online. December 2015. Oxford University Press.. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 15 January 2016].
Shesgreen, S., 1990. The criers and hawkers of London, engravings and drawings by Marcellus Laroon. Aldershot: Scholar Press.
Spufford, M., 1984. The great reclothing of rural England: petty chapmen and their wares in the seventeenth century. London: Hambledon Press.


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