This could have been worn by someone living or working in a Eastern country because of the boteh or pine motifs, although I feel sure it was made in Europe and probably Italy. Of course Italy can be extremely hot in the summer, so perhaps just influenced by the East rather than worn there. Perhaps it was bought by an British gentleman whilst on the Grand Tour. Marvellous shape, the gentleman this was made for certainly wanted to impress. The silk taffeta ground is particularly attractive. The inserts and boteh or pine motif centres are made from silk wrapped round a linen? core, which is rather unusual, and feels stiff. The hat was worn in the summer, unlined and so a little air could circulate through the mesh inserts.
During the 18th century gentleman continued to wear powdered wigs over shaved heads, It was considered more hygenic duirng unsanitary times to shave the hair, rather than be subject to head lice. Once home they would remove their wigs, which must have been hot and uncomfortable and donned informal wear to receive visitors. A hat such as this would have been worn by a prestigious gentleman in the upper echelons of society. Worn with a banyan, a loose T shaped robe or one of coat shape, made of brocade, damask, silk or a print. With a loose shirt and breeches underneath this must have been very comfortable. If you look at portraits of the time you will see these outfits. They are sometimes called night caps, but clearly this type would not have been worn in bed!
Domed crown in four curving segments connected by narrow mesh panels, with deep peaked brim, the panels and brim worked with Oriental shaped flowers, their centres in mesh, achieved by silk wrapped linen? thread, outlined with similar silk wrapped linen? thread couched to the blue green silk ground, with floss silks leaves, a small silk wrapped button to the crown, unlined.
8 in; 20 cm button to lower brim
12 1/2 in; 32 cm width - edge of brim to edge of brim.
Brim 3 in; 7.5 cm deep.
There is a small hole to a fold on the brim. When the hat is opened out flat there is a slight mark where the brim has been folded, but not very noticeable when folded. A very small slight mark to the corner of one leaf.
The Textile Mueum, Lyons. Guide to the collections, p 171 for similar shape.
My thanks to the wonderful website www.larsdatter.com. There are lots of references to caps, nightcaps but those below show the most similar to ours.
Colonial Williamsburg has several caps and this one is similar. Probably Italian 1730-50.+
emuseum.history.org/objects/37547/cap. Italian 1700-1730. +
metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/116700. German 1700-1750.
manchesterartgallery.org/collections/title/?mag-object-5833. Of very similar shape but with typical Queen Anne English embroidery dated 1675-1700
collections.mfa.org/objects/46601. Italian dated 1675-1725
collections.mfa.org/objects/116801. French, early 18th c.
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