As promised, I have some more information on the curious “red turban” seen in Jan Van Eyck’s portrait we studied on Tuesday. Called a chaperon, what we see in this painting is essentially a shoulder cape with a hood that wearers would frequently wrap up in a bundle to prevent tripping or having it get in the way. It shows up in numerous artworks from the period, including another portrait by Van Eyck, this time of Giovanni Arnoflini (the wealthy Italian merchant who is believed to be one half of the subjects in Double Portrait).

For more information, see this blog post from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Jan Van Eyck (Flemish, c.1385-1441). Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini, ca. 1435. Oil on oak; 29 x 20 cm (11.4 x 7.8 in). Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 523A. Source: Wikimedia Commons