Friday, 22 January 2016

A mysterious hood

Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin, c. 1435-1440. 137.5 x 110.8 cm on panel. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.

A few weeks ago one of the Dutch newspapers commented on a painting by the Flemish medieval artist Rogier van der Weyden: St. Luke drawing the Virgin (1435-1440) (the original painting now resides in the Boston Museum of Fine Art; some medieval copies are in München, Bruges and the Hermitage in St. Peterburg). In the background of the painting a couple can be seen staring at the river. The newspapers wondered what the couple were looking at and what they were saying to each other. However my eye fell to the headdress of the man. The long liripipe suggests that he is wearing a hood. But is he also wearing a hat over it? Or is the black part actually the inside of the hood. And if this is the case, how does he actually wear his hood. I immediately rushed to my own hood to try this out, much to the amusement of Anne, Bram and Katinka. I must confess that I did not succeed in figuring out how the hood was worn.

The man wearing the hood in a mysterious way. Detail of the painting by Rogier van der Weyden.

Some days later I found another image in an early 15th century medieval manuscript of a man wearing the hood in a similar way. This suggests that this way of wearing the hood was more common. Has anyone an idea how this was done?

Les comédies de Terence. Ms Latin 664, folio 181v. Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris, France. Around 1410.

p.s. Some other ways of hood wearing can be found on the Tacuinum Medievale blog or alternative hood use on this blog.


  1. >This suggests that this way of wearing the hood was more common. Has anyone an idea how this was done?

    Isn't it the same way as the "backwards worn chaperon" (photo 2) in the Tacuinum Medievale-blog? And then putting a hat on top of the hood. (I wonder if that's done for extra warmth or for style?)

  2. I don't see it as being a hood at all. I just see a hat with an inner lining that extends at the back. We still have such hats in this day and age that feature a protective fabric sun flap down the back of the neck. I don't know the function of the extra long tail, but perhaps it is to bind the extra material around the cap when it was not needed for sun protection.

  3. i don't think this is mysterious at all, its just a dagged hood, worn with the faceopening on the head, what is hanging out in the back are the dagges and the lyripipe. and then he apparently put a hat over it. neither the version of wearing the hood nor one form of headwear over the other is uncommon for late middle ages.

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