Whether for function, fashion, or both,
the collection at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art includes works of art that show many different types of headwear that were sported for a variety of reasons.
Cowboy hats were initially created for function. Typically made of fine beaver, rabbit, or other small mammal hair, they were built to weather the natural elements. John B. Stetson changed the cowboy hat game in 1865 with more practical and stylish designs. The style evolved to cater to the user: a curved up brim to stay out of the way of a rope, and a pinched crown to keep it in place. After the advent of these fresher designs, cowboy hats started to appear in the fashion world and films.
His First Lesson (1903) by Frederic RemingtonAmon Carter Museum of American Art
The deep bend in the brim of the left cowboy's hat suggests he regularly uses a lasso.
Making a Cigarette (The Virginian) (ca. 1911) by Charles M. RussellAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Wearing a surplus 1876 campaign hat, gathered at the crown in the ‘Montana peak’ style, proved the popularity of this hat that still appears in the uniforms of Highway Patrol Police departments.
Placing the LS brand on a white calf. LS Ranch, Texas. (1907) by Erwin E. SmithAmon Carter Museum of American Art
These cowboys sport the stereotypical 10-gallon hat — a style dominated by a tall crown, often tamped or pinched in a variety of styles.
Hats worn as part of a uniform, particularly military uniforms, are commonly seen in many early American artworks. While they might not always be functional, they can help indicate a soldier’s rank.
Col. Hamtramck, Virginia Volunteers (ca. 1847) by Unknown photographerAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Colonel Hamtramck sports a silver bugle cap badge type used by state militias—Virginia in this case. The bugle is facing the wrong way due to the Daguerreotype photograph being a mirror image.
Cavalryman of the Line, Mexico (1889) by Frederic RemingtonAmon Carter Museum of American Art
French military styles dominated the uniforms of armies on both sides of the Atlantic. This Mexican officer’s dress cap shows European influence, likely resulting from France's invasion of Mexico during the 1860s.
Drum Corps (1889) by Frederic RemingtonAmon Carter Museum of American Art
This particular hat is known as a kepi and was often used as the default military hat for foot troops.
The Case of Sergeant Delaney No. 1 (1921) by George BellowsAmon Carter Museum of American Art
The man wearing the white hat and holding a sword is a German Officer during World War I.
Hats that serve a function when spending time outdoors are depicted in several collection artworks.
Eight Bells (1887) by Winslow HomerAmon Carter Museum of American Art
The sou’wester to wick away water.
Crossing the Pasture (1871) by Winslow HomerAmon Carter Museum of American Art
A lightweight hunting cap on the taller boy to protect ears and neck from elements like sun and wind.
An Indian Trapper (1889) by Frederic RemingtonAmon Carter Museum of American Art
A fur hat to keep a rider warm in cold, windy desert conditions.
Willie Hesse, West, Texas (1913) by Lewis Wickes HineAmon Carter Museum of American Art
And here a young boy is wearing a straw hat to protect skin from the sun.
In the American colonies of the 1600s, the fashion was for men to remove their hats and place them under their arms when not wearing them. For an easier carry, sides of the hat began to fold in one, two, or three places. Three folds, or “Tri-Corn” hats, were very common in the 1700s.
Franklin's Arrival in Philadelphia (1923) by N. C. WyethAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Here Benjamin Franklin wears a tri-corn hat upon his arrival to Philadelphia.
Attention, Company! (1878) by William Michael HarnettAmon Carter Museum of American Art
This paper hat is being worn as a costume.
Hats for fashion are seen time and again on both men and women depicted in the Amon Carter's collection.
Portrait of W. E. Story, First State (1921) by George BellowsAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Top hats for men in the late 1880s through the mid-1900s,
The Jury (1916) by George BellowsAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Felt bowler caps for men.
Margaret Carlson (1921) by Laura GilpinAmon Carter Museum of American Art
Wide brim hats for women.
Portrait of Mrs. R. (1923) by George BellowsAmon Carter Museum of American Art
And cloche hats for women in the early 1900s.
Produced by Peggy Sell, Interpretation Manager with assistance from Maggie Adler, Assistant Curator at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
All artworks from the collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.