18th Century Capuchins

Last updated: Jan 5, 2024

According to the 1773 Dictionary of the English Language, a capuchin is “A female garment, conſiſting of a cloak and hood, made in imitation of the dreſs of capuchin monks.” Hallie Larkin’s research on the subject further elucidates that capuchins were distinct from other women’s cloaks, and they were made of silk. (The trade card of Edith Ridout, Milliner offers “Flowerd Silk & Gauſe Capuchins,” for example.)

These garments and images run parallel to the contemporary descriptions of capuchins, so I’m classifying them here. For the most part, they are short or medium-length, with hoods, and are made of silk.

Other types of cloaks are discussed on separate pages (e.g. cardinals, mantelets, pelisses, working-class short cloaks).

Extant examples

  • Met C.I.68.68.8, a silk capuchin, probably French, c. 1725-1750
  • MFA 59.1058, 18th century New England: “Hood with short cape attached. Cream-colored figured silk. Lined with cream-colored silk. Trimmed with bobbin lace.”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2014-177, probably Europe, c. 1750; “This hooded short cloak is constructed of red silk with a woven pattern of small, isolated roses. The edges and neckline are trimmed with white bobbin lace with a floral pattern. The lining is very thin white silk.”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2018-278, a figured gauze cloak, English or French, 1750-1800
  • V&A T.61-1934, a figured satin cloak trimmed with lace, made in England c. 1760-1770
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2020-11, a light blue figured silk cloak trimmed in bobbin lace and lined in light silk taffeta, made in America or England, worn in New York, c. 1770-1790
  • V&A T.37-1958, English, c. 1770; “Ivory, scalloped and pinked trim, hooded”
  • Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design OK-12056, fur-trimmed silk satin, possibly made in Norway c. 1780-1810
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1994-160, a child’s hooded silk cloak, made in Great Britain c. 1780-1800 and worn in the Boston area, “Silk compound weave fabric, linen bobbin lace, glazed worsted and silk linings”
  • Met 2009.300.3890, an embroidered silk cape, British, 1795-1800
  • Met 36.64.3, a silk capuchin, made in America c. 1810

Portraits and illustrations