Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Linen Nightcap, 1600-1624

The Victoria & Albert Museum

A beautiful work of linen, embroidered with silver-gilt, silver and silk thread and trimmed with silver-gilt bobbin lace seems quite foreign to modern eyes. It is, in fact, a cap. And, odd as it may seem to us now, it was designed to be worn by a man.

Headwear was a significant part of Seventeenth Century fashion. Not only did caps and hats offer another opportunity for personal adornment, they served to keep the head warm and clean. Both men and women had a variety of caps for different occasions and times of the day. A cap such as this was meant to be worn informally and only at home—in private. Even though it’s a nightcap, it was still made to be quite luxurious—adorned with silver and metal spangles (the Seventeenth Century word for sequins) which would have reflected the light of candles and the fire in the hearth.

The embroidery is neatly finished in a pattern of flowers, strawberries, and leaves inspired by the botanical picture books which were popular at the time.

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