Nightcap thumbnail 1
Nightcap thumbnail 2
+38
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Nightcap

1600-1624 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This nightcap is a typical example of informal headwear for a wealthy man. Although only worn in the privacy of home, it is a luxurious garment.

Ownership & Use
Covering the head for both men and women was an important sartorial custom in Western Europe up until 1960s. From a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease. In literature and paintings, to be bareheaded often signified emotional distress or even insanity.

The use of the adjective 'night' in describing various types of informal garments, as in nightcap or nightgown, is sometimes confusing. It refers to 'night clothes', that is, informal clothing worn in the evening, after the formal public attire of the day, rather than to garments that were actually worn in bed.

Designs & Designing
The nightcap's pattern of roses, strawberries, grapes and vine leaves characterises embroidery of the early 17th century. Most needlework designs of the period were naturalistic interpretations of flowers, birds and insects, often copied from herbals and emblem books. By the 1620s several books had been published specifically for embroidery, often with patterns specially adapted for the shape of the nightcap.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, coloured silk and silver-gilt thread, with silver-gilt bobbin lace and spangles
Brief Description
Cap, embroidered with metal threads and silk on linen with metal laces, England, 1600-24.
Physical Description
Cap, linen, coloured silk & silver-gilt thread with silver-gilt bobbin lace & spangles. Close fitting cap in cream linen, rising from a headband with separate panels worked in a pattern of roses, strawberries, grapes and vine leaves.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 27.3cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 26/04/1999 by DW display measurements measured by DW 26.04.99
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Richly decorated caps like this one were worn informally by aristocratic gentlemen. Despite their name, they were worn during the day at home. Although they do appear in portraits, they were never worn in public. Nevertheless they were usually elaborately embroidered with metal threads, lace and spangles (sequins).(27/03/2003)
Historical context
Richly decorated caps such as this one were informal headwear for aristocratic gentlemen. They were worn in the privacy of home and never seen in public. Nevertheless they were very elaborately embroidered with silver-gilt thread and coloured silks and trimmed with silver-gilt bobbin lace and spangles.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This nightcap is a typical example of informal headwear for a wealthy man. Although only worn in the privacy of home, it is a luxurious garment.

Ownership & Use
Covering the head for both men and women was an important sartorial custom in Western Europe up until 1960s. From a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease. In literature and paintings, to be bareheaded often signified emotional distress or even insanity.

The use of the adjective 'night' in describing various types of informal garments, as in nightcap or nightgown, is sometimes confusing. It refers to 'night clothes', that is, informal clothing worn in the evening, after the formal public attire of the day, rather than to garments that were actually worn in bed.

Designs & Designing
The nightcap's pattern of roses, strawberries, grapes and vine leaves characterises embroidery of the early 17th century. Most needlework designs of the period were naturalistic interpretations of flowers, birds and insects, often copied from herbals and emblem books. By the 1620s several books had been published specifically for embroidery, often with patterns specially adapted for the shape of the nightcap.
Bibliographic Reference
John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.85
Collection
Accession Number
T.258-1926

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJanuary 22, 2003
Record URL