6 Hats from Art History We'd Love to Wear - Google Arts & Culture (2024)

Milliner's Shop (1914) by August MackeMuseum Folkwang

Hats can add color, style, and a little bit of flamboyance to a portrait. So it’s no surprise numerous subjects have chosen to be painted complete with their favorite headwear. Here are just 6 of the best hats from art history we wish we could get our hands on today.

Girl with the Red Hat (c. 1666/1667) by Johannes VermeerNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Girl with Red Hat, Johannes Vermeer, 1666

Commonly attributed to Johannes Vermeer, Girl with Red Hat is a small, wood panel portrait created in around 1666. The beautiful image shows a woman looking straight at the viewer. Light from what appears to be a nearby window bathes her face,catching her rich blue robes and bringing the image to life.

However, it’s the woman’s hat that's the star of the show. Big, bold and incredibly eye-catching, the subject’s red hat steals the scene. The model for the painting was probably one of Vermeer’s friends or family members. We’ll never know if the hat belonged to her, or if was a prop specially chosen for the portrait.

Portrait of a Man in a Broad-Brimmed Hat (1635) by Rembrandt van RijnKawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art

Portrait of a Man in a Broad-Brimmed Hat, Rembrandt, 1635

The subject of this portrait is more than likely a local Amsterdam merchant. The portrait is one of a pair. The other features the man’s wife and was probably hung alongside this work in the couple’s home.

The subject’s hat is fairly typical of the period. Though it’s made from plain black material, its large brim and jaunty silhouette give it a stylish, informal look. And in fact, that type of hat wouldn’t look out of place in some of the world’s hipster districts today.

Self-portrait with grey felt hat (September 1887 - October 1887) by Vincent van GoghVan Gogh Museum

Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, Vincent van Gogh, 1887

During his lifetime, Van Gogh painted around 35 self-portraits. Many, like Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, show the artist with head wear. This image was made in 1887 when Van Gogh was living in Paris.

The pale blue hat was obviously carefully chosen for the occasion. The darker tones of the hat match the artist’s coat and are echoed in the background of the image, making the item integral to the scene.

Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (obverse: The Potato Peeler) (1887/1887) by Vincent van GoghThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, Vincent van Gogh, 1887

Vincent van Gogh was such a prolific hat wearer that he’s managed two entries on our list. The bright yellow of this hat gives the painting a warmer, sunnier feel, with its bold tones picked up in the skin and clothes of the artist.

Julia, Lady Peel Julia, Lady Peel (1827) by Sir Thomas LawrenceThe Frick Collection

Julia, Lady Peel, Thomas Lawrence, 1827

Julia, Lady Peel was the wife of Robert Peel who twice served as British Prime Minister. First exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1827, the portrait was much admired, with Lawrence’s flamboyant style incredibly popular during the regency period.

The subject’s hat is arguably the most flamboyant part of the entire image. The red plumes rise high over her head before cascading down behind her back. While this might not be a look you want to recreate, it’s impossible to deny the impact of this bold,eye-catching headwear.

Elizabeth, Lady Taylor (ca. 1780) by Joshua ReynoldsThe Frick Collection

Elizabeth, Lady Taylor, Joshua Reynolds, 1780

Dating back to the late 18th century, this beautiful portrait was made by legendary English painter Joshua Reynolds. The subject of the work wears an elaborate and distinctive hat with a blue ribbon and white flowers on the top. Needless to say, this distinctive piece would garner numerous admirers if it were worn today.

Three Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen (1773) by Sir Joshua ReynoldsTate Britain

Find out more about Joshua Reynolds here.

Credits: All media

The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art Museum FolkwangNational Gallery of Art, Washington DCTate BritainThe Frick CollectionThe Kyoto Costume InstituteThe Metropolitan Museum of ArtVan Gogh Museum

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6 Hats from Art History We'd Love to Wear - Google Arts & Culture (2024)

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