Sunday, April 26, 2015

Giotto: Hats

I haven't been writing the past few days because I hurt my right shoulder and left elbow and needed to give them some rest.

Since I've been taking a short break, and since we are at a natural stopping place between the cardinal and theological virtues, I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about the headgear, or lack of that we've seen in frescoes so far. There's a wide variety of hats and hair and each one speaks to its particular vice or virtue.

Justice wears a crown, a symbol of her authority, and a royal authority, and in the Middle Ages, there was a belief that royal authority was given by God.

I don't know if Injustice's hat has any significance, but it is similar to those worn by these 14th century notaries,

and this detail of a painting of a village lawyer by Breughel the Younger.

Temperance's head covering is, well, temperate. It's modest and serves its purpose appropriately.

Wrath wears no head covering at all. She submits to no authority and her hair is loose and uncontrolled.

As mentioned before, Fortitude wears the head of a lion, a symbol of strength and courage.

While Inconstancy, like Wrath is bare-headed, no covering, no plan.

Prudence's hat is all business. It's tied on to make sure it stays in place.

And Foolishness wears the silliest hat of all, a crown made of feathers and bells instead of gold and jewels. 

All of this is my own best guess. I'm not in any way an expert on the subject, and there may be much more in the frescoes than I'm capable of ferreting out. It's wonderful, though, how Giotto seems to take every last detail into consideration, and how the more you look at his images, the more you can see.



  1. When I saw the title of this post I wondered whether hats were going to be a virtue or a vice.

    It's great the way you bring out these little things that I for one would never have noticed.

    1. Depends on whether it's a church lady that or a pork pie hat.


  2. Hey Janet I found you, I am so excited to read all this.... His beauty is everywhere and so much in your heart my dear friend!