Philip III, King of Spain and his Bejeweled Hat
In the Smithsonian American Art Museum sits a painting called King Philip III of Spain, c. 1590-1600. The painting is by an unknown artist, formally attributed to Lucas Cranach.
This portrait of Philip III has so many little details that are interesting. Lets start with the Jerkin. This one appears to be made of leather with slashes that are trimmed with black and silver braid as well as gold couching. The couching around the outer edge of the trim is normal for the era if perhaps, a bit less common.
The gold cord on the interior edge is not normal at all. typically slashes like this are bound edges and you don't see a second piece of trim decorating the inner edge. The cartoonish nature of his majesty's face coupled with the very odd detail of the inner edge couching cord on the slashes makes me think this might have been painted by a student rather than a master like Cranach himself. Its formal attribution is to Lucas Cranach the Younger. I'm not sure I feel comfortable with that attribution...but then, its not my choice.
The second thing I want to draw attention to is the cloak. It is so simple and lovely. I have long held the idea that cloaks in this era, especially in Spain, were not always treated as the sleeveless coat-like attitude with which we perceive them today. I think they were treated much more like a male version of the shawl in daily wear.
This collarless, simple half-circle cloak (or possibly a full-circle folded in half), is just draped easily over the shoulders. In other countries and later eras, we can see that cloaks are often just draped around the figure in various ways. This could be one of the reasons that there is a distinct lack of closures on most of the cloaks from this time period.
Moving on to his breeches. I don't know how much we can really say about them that has not been said of other paintings before. They are the typical silhouette of the 1610s. Were I to guess, I would say that they are probably embroidered velvet or embroidered black worsted cloth. The embroidery is a simple couched pattern of scroll-work with a few flourishes and small leaf details. It is, by Spanish standards, on the simple side of opulent. I would say this portrait was probably painted in winter due to the heavy feeling surrounding all of the clothes.
The real star of this painting though, is the hat!! It is the classic tall style. Its hard to tell here if the hat is knit/fulled or a pulled felt. It is, however, decorated. This is something we don't see very often in these hats. We sometimes see simple bands, often black, around the base of the crown, but It rare that we see a hat on a man, encrusted with pearls and gold!
Here at The Modern Maker, we know that knitwear is a large part of daily life in the era and we are working to make those accessories available to you all. In a few weeks, we will be able to release our knitting pattern for this style of hat. We know that some of these we see in paintings were knit. There are surviving pieces in museums.
Its often hard to say to what extent they were fulled, but we will be providing a few different versions over the coming months with different proportions of fulling From a style which is so fulled, you can't see the individual stitches, so a style which, like the surviving versions, is densely knit and fulled but doesn't result in quite such a felt-like appearance.
As we shift and adjust our focus to better suit your needs, you'll see more knitting appear in our conversation. Keep your hands warmed up and get your yarns lined up...We might be going a little knitting crazy!
For more information on this painting, check out the archive on the Smithsonian American Art Museum website: https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/king-philip-iii-spain-25029