Unknown artist, English
Man’s nightcap, ca. 1580
Linen plain weave embroidered with silk, metallic thread, and metal sequins, and trimmed with metallic-thread lace
Height: 25.4 cm (10 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 1987.042
Men in England wore embroidered caps for more than a century, beginning about 1550. Not to be confused with the ‘biggin’ (sleeping cap), an embroidered man’s nightcap was usually worn on informal occasions indoors or outdoors under a gentleman’s hat. This night-cap was probably embroidered in the household, perhaps by a wife or a fiancée. Most likely a draftsman drew its pattern out on linen, or the maker herself might have copied it from a paper template. Worked in a particularly English style of decoration, with stylized flowers in linked circular motifs, it is a rare glimpse of the Elizabethan taste for rich display even on informal occasions.