The Amazing Hats of Jesus

Let’s talk about Jesus.

More particularly… let’s talk about Jesus wearing hats.

Yes! In the Easter season, there is a lot to be joyful about, but one of the silliest reasons to be joyful is the abundance of paintings featuring Jesus… wearing wonderful hats.

You see, in the gospel, after the Resurrection, Jesus repeatedly is reported to appear to His disciples in strange and wonderful ways. But, His disciples don’t necessarily recognize Him in the beginning. For instance! When Saint Mary Magdalene was weeping at the tomb, Jesus came to her and spoke to her, and she initially thought that He was the gardener, until He said her name. Then, in the Journey to Emmaus, the disciples of Christ didn’t realize that Christ was the one traveling with them until He broke the bread at supper… and disappeared from their midst.

And so, artists read the gospel and interpreted this that Jesus must… be wearing a silly hat! After all, why wouldn’t His disciples recognize Him??

Of course, there are many reasons why His disciples wouldn’t recognize Him! For one, St. Mary Magdalene was bawling her eyes out since she thought Jesus was gone, and she probably wasn’t thinking very clearly. Then the disciples of Jesus were not the Eleven, and it’s likely that they were not as familiar with His appearance than the Eleven were.

But, it makes me smile to see Jesus with a hat on!

And so, with no further ado, I present to you… the top five hats of Jesus!

1. The Dawn Comes!

Christ and Saint Mary Magdalene at the Tomb, by Rembrandt van Rijn., c. 1638. Royal Collection Trust, London, United Kingdom.
Christ and Saint Mary Magdalene at the Tomb, by Rembrandt van Rijn., c. 1638. Royal Collection Trust, London, United Kingdom.

Ah, Rembrandt at his best! Rembrandt always did have a penchant for making evocative pictures with excellent lighting, and this one is no different. Look at how the dawn is portrayed, with the first rays of sunlight starting to brighten the world, and how they brilliantly illuminate Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s startled face. Here, Mary has been at the tomb, arguing with the two angels, when suddenly she hears her name — and recognizes Christ’s voice! And so you can see her face dawn with recognition, just as the dawn touches her face.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

Also: Jesus’s hat is amazing, don’t you agree? Bonus points for the spade in hand!

2. The Dramatic Painting

Noli Me Tangere, by Alessandro Magnasco, c. 1705-10. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States.
Noli Me Tangere, by Alessandro Magnasco, c. 1705-10. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States.

I know what you’re thinking… can there possibly be a picture which looks more like it was made in the Baroque era than this picture??? After all, there is an unwritten rule that everything in the Baroque period must be Dramatic.

And so, you have the dramatic ruins of Rome and a sweeping landscape in the background, just in case you don’t get that this is supposed to be a dramatic moment. And, because this is a religious artwork that was made in the Baroque period, you basically need to put tons of angels in each painting… though, this one only has four angels, unlike the usual 457 angels that are usually required in Baroque religious painting. (Have I ranted about this yet? If not, I should…)

And then there’s the Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ! Both of them depicted in very dramatic positions, of course, because, as you probably already guessed, everything must be dramatic in a Baroque artwork. Mary Magdalene is kneeling on the floor while Jesus appears to her, a dramatic wind conveniently making his very dramatic shroud look like it is about to fly away… dramatically, of course. Also, both of them are super buff, because there must be a hint of action, because action is dramatic, and thus they need to be super buff, of course.

And then you have an awesomely dramatic hat by Jesus, with a spade in His hand. Because, you know, He looks like a gardener and everything, right?

No, but seriously. I love this painting. It’s moody and evocative and… well… yes, dramatic and over-the-top, but in the best way possible.

3. In Which Jesus Actually Looks Like a Gardener

Noli Me Tangere, by Lavinia Fontana, c. 1581. The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Noli Me Tangere, by Lavinia Fontana, c. 1581. The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

This might be the first one in which Jesus looks like… well… a gardener. Instead of, you know, the Resurrected Jesus in a hat. So, bonus points to Lavinia Fontana for getting that detail right!

You’ll also notice some cool details here… you can see the Holy Women go to the tomb and talk with the angel, as a kind of reminder of what actually happened in the scripture! Also, it looks like they’re in the middle of a garden, so it looks really nice.

But Jesus and Mary Magdalene totally steal the scene. Mary Magdalene looks like she is ready to anoint Jesus with more oil, again, whereas Jesus asks her not to touch Him.

Also, can I comment just for a moment how I appreciate that she looks like she wants to anoint Him, instead of grab Him, like she is often portrayed in art? Way to go, Lavinia Fontana, for not making this scene completely awkward!

4. In Which Jesus Looks Slightly Out of Place

The Road to Emmaus, by Altobello Melone, c. 1516-17. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
The Road to Emmaus, by Altobello Melone, c. 1516-17. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

Oh dear… what to say about this painting?

First of all, this illustrates the scene in which Jesus meets up with some of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. So, you’ll notice that His disciples are wearing the garb in which artists typically portray biblical characters in.

But! Jesus is not recognized! How can this be???

And so Altobello Melone portrays Jesus as… someone living in the sixteenth century, complete with an amazing hat.

Because that wouldn’t stand out or be awkward at all!

Like I said before: OH DEAR.

Still! You have to admit… it is an amazing hat.

5. Three Hats For the Price of One!

The Walk to Emmaus, by Lelio Orsi, c. 1565-75. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
The Walk to Emmaus, by Lelio Orsi, c. 1565-75. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom.

Yes, this picture is moody and dark. The sky almost seems like it has been rent into pieces… which is probably what the two travelers and disciples of Jesus sort of feel like right now because all seems lost.

However, Jesus comes in the middle of them and tells them how to interpret things properly. And suddenly it appears that not all is lost. Instead of the sky being torn, you can see that light is about to pierce through the darkness — and indeed, that’s the truth!

Also, did I mention three awesome hats??? Because they are amazing!

Bonus Image: Biblical Head Gear

Whenever I’ve mentioned the amazing hats of Jesus, someone inevitably asks, “So… what did the hats look like around the time of Jesus?”

Good question!

It’s a bit hard to say…

However, one of my favorite artists, James Tissot, who did an enormous amount of research into the Holy Land and its people — he even left his comfortable Parisian life and lived in the Holy Land for ten years! — decided that the head coverings of the poor in Jerusalem probably looked something like this:

The Good Shepherd, by James Tissot, c. 1886-94. Brooklyn Museum, New York, New York, United States.

Behold! It’s a picture of Jesus, depicted as a simple shepherd! In the garb that a typical shepherd would wear — and Tissot would know, since he interviewed plenty of them!

Anyway, since Tissot was pretty meticulous with a fine eye for drawing fabric — after all, he illustrated Parisian fashion lines before he found religion — I am assuming that he is probably pretty close to the truth, as far as what a biblical hat looks like!

Final Thoughts…

As far as what Jesus actually looked like when He appeared to His disciples? And does He really wear amazing hats? I suppose we’ll finally know when we face Him on our particular day of judgment! 🙂

But, no matter what He looks like, may we all see Him as our brother!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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