Children’s Headwear

Lately, I’ve been hearing an assortment of “kids didn’t wear…”, “children only wore…”, “she’s too young for….” and so on.

Ehhhh…. not so much. Children had a variety of headwear to choose from. Here is an attempt at a survey of paintings to help us get a better idea. (Clicking on the thumbnails will take you to the full paintings)

Let us start with this little boy from Britain.  The title, A Visit from the Hall, suggests his family rents or works the land.  He is young. I would estimate 2 or 3 years of age. He wears a long smock that may be a dress and what might be the start of pants underweight. He holds a cap in his hand.

A Visit from the Hall Edwin Cockburn 1855This little girl is getting direction from her mother, in Responsibility by Hugh Cameron (1869). I can’t help think “Little Red Riding Hood” here. Except instead of a red hood she is wearing a white, possibly blueish, soft bonnet or hood. It may be a quilted bonnet. The weather may or may not be slightly chilled outside, as she wears a light outer garment and not arm coverings. Responsibility  by Hugh Cameron 1869

In this Cameron painting, The Village Well (1871), the girl is wearing a short sleeve dress, pinafore and pretty pink sunbonnet. This appears to be a corded sunbonnet to me. The curtain/bavolet is long, hanging over her shoulders protecting her neck. In her hand (sorry I cropped that) is a jug for water. The Village Well Hugh Cameron 1871This girl coming through a garden gate is also wearing a pink sunbonnet. This one has a ruffle around the brim and a much longer curtain. At the Doorway  John George Brown 1867

This girl’s sunbonnet is white. You can see it tied under her chin with a ribbon that appears to have color. The Picnic John George Brown 1861For an additional sunbonnet, see Pay Toll.

The next few images depict fairs. Looking at the whole paintings, we see a wide variety of clothing. In Alfred Mudge’s Walking the Walsall Fair (1859) we see two girls wearing structured bonnets, meaning buckram or straw bonnets. The lower image shows a girl who wears a pinafore type garment over her dress which is just above the ankles. I think she is 11 to 14. Her bonnet hints at straw while distinctly showing the bavolet and ribbons. She is holding the hand of another child, possibly a girl if that is long hair, who is wearing a hat with a ribbon. In the upper image, which is to the right of the first girl in the whole painting, is a girl who may be a bit younger than the first. She wears a bonnet perched far back on her head, to the point of falling off. Walking the Walsall Fair by Alfred Mudge 1859This next child is a bit blurry because I tried to zoom in too far. She is from William Samuel P. Henderson’s Fair Day (1856). She is quite young, maybe 3 to 5. She wears a dark, possibly black, structured bonnet tied with light, possibly blue, ribbons under her chin. Fair Day by William Samuel P Henderson 1856

For additional “reading”, this page has several good paintings for clothing in general.

Also see, Looking out for the Engine while the Bell Rings for an assortment of head wear.

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Great examples. Thanks for “digging” these out.


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