Continited from page 1674, Part 14
-Examples from Celebrated Pictures
In Boucher's portrait of Madame de Pom-padour (Fig. 1) we see her when some of her youthful freshness still lingers, and her simple headdress. The hair is just powdered, and very slightly puffed and curled pretty, unexaggerated headdress, with its touch of powder, is but a little puffed and curled.
Fig. 1. Boucher's portrait shows Madame de Pompadour's pretty.
Nevertheless, it shows the small beginning of a fashion which was in a few years to make it almost true that the face of a fashionable woman should mark the middle of her stature.
Paris, in the reign of Louis XVI., was a place of prosperity for all artists in hair-dressing. The great lady of this period considered that the hairdresser's hour was the most important hour of her day. When he appeared, he needed perfect quiet to perform his task, in case inspiration should cease to come. According to the rank of his fair patron, this coiffeur was a great artist, who came in his own carriage, wearing a dress coat, lace ruffles, and a sword at his side.
Under his deft fingers an extraordinary structure of natural curls, mingled with quantities of borrowed hair, was built up, and on this were placed bows and marvellous inventions, fantastically named.
This state of things went on for twenty years or so. Ridiculous names, such as "Hedgehog with Four Curls," invented by Marie Antoinette, "Peal of Bells," the "Bandeau of Love," etc., were applied to these amazing structures, which the foolish fashion of the period called hair-dressing. The pouf au sentiment gave great scope for ingenious invention. Flowers and shrubs, with birds in the branches, surmounted a great erection of hair known as the garden coiffure. A cascade of powdered ringlets falling from the top of the head, with vegetables hooked into the side-curls, was designated the " kitchen garden " style. Then some bolder spirit created a
Figs. 2 and 3. An excellent contrast is afforded in the stiff arrangement of one of George Morland's ladies and the tumbled negligence pictured in Gainsborough's " Mrs. Watson " hillside landscape absurdity, complete even to a turning windmill, a shepherdess and sheep, and a sportsman with his dog.
There were many other absurd extravagances of fashion. One artist surpassed another until the breaking point of the Revolutionary period was at hand, and many of the frivolous heads which these grotesque creations adorned paid the penalty for the sins of the century. The poudre period in France was followed by tragedy.
But it must not be supposed that these inordinate adornments were normal; they were the occasional distinction of the ultra smart, and women of taste, of rank and fashion, in England particularly, were for the most part satisfied with something less outrageous and often quite beautiful. Our picture galleries are full of lovely eighteenth century women in varying degrees of powder and curls, many of whose headdresses speak of the real taste of that host of hairdressers, English and foreign, who figured so largely in the life of the time, and who dictated so sternly their decrees to eager patronesses.
Of course, good and bad taste existed then, as now, side by side. Compare, for example, the tumbled studied negligence of the fine powdered head of Mrs. Watson from Gainsborough's portrait with the artificially arranged head of one of Morland's ladies. (See Figs. 3 and 2.) On the one hand there is a sort of quasi-natural dignity and grace, whilst the stiff regularity of the Morland portrait gives to the hair a rigidity and symmetry absolutely tasteless. In the one case the face is framed agreeably, and in the other the reverse.
Angelica Kauffmann probably designed her own headdress to be painted, as, although not one of the most beautiful, it shows high individuality, and faintly recalls the tied hair of a classic Diana, with which this famous artist was doubtless familiar. The true-lovers' knot based upon a diamond-shaped comb, the puffed curls at the side, and the long trails at the neck, combined to make the grey powder effect very stately and gracious.
Fig. 4. Angelica Kauffmann probably designed her own headdress to be painted. It displays great individuality and faintly re calls the tied hair of a classic Diana
Reynolds's portrait of Lady Elizabeth neck
Fig. 5. Reynolds's portrait of Lady Elizabeth Compton shows a long sea-shell spiral curve surmounting a symmetrically built-up head, with a looped tress and side curl as background for the graceful
Compton (Fig. 5) shows a long sea-shell spiral curve surmounting a symmetrically
Fig. 6. Romney's portrait of Miss Benedetta Ramus illustrates the use of a ribbon-sustained plait, and short, wide formal curls headdress-one of the three Ladies Waldegrave in Sir Joshua
Fig. 7. A fine example of the use of the curl in a stately powdered
Reynolds's great picture of Jane. Countess of Harrington
Fig. 8. The sculpturesque feeling for form is evident in the head
From a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds built-up head, with a looped tress and side curl as background for the graceful neck.
Romney's portrait of Miss Benedetta Ramus (Fig. 6) shows fine form over the brow and temples with the use of a ribbon-sustained plait and short, wide formal curls. A very fine example of the use of the curl in these stately, powdered headdresses is found in Sir Joshua's great picture of the three Ladies Waldegrave. Here one gets a side view of one of them (Fig. 7), showing the strand of stiffened hair built into the requisite curves over the substructures, and then ended with a wide and springy curl. The sculpturesque feeling for form is evident in the head of Jane, Countess of Harrington (Fig. 8), which is a triumph of its sort and in perfect harmony with the stately decorations of her age.
It is not necessary to follow each slight variation, so let us look at two ladies in their hats, and for the purpose we can hardly select better examples than Reynolds's fine portrait of Mrs. Siddons (Fig. 9), in which the black hat gives such point to the beautiful powdered head, and the portrait of a lady by Raeburn (Fig. 10), in which the grey poudre effect is heightened by the broad Leghorn hat and the white berthe.
During the whole of this period, down to the early years of the nineteenth century, the curl figured mainly as a trailing adornment-a fashion which vanished with the Regency, to reappear in early and mid-victorian times; but the end of powder was at hand, and we shall probably never again have the taste, the time, or the temper to submit to its exacting fascination
Fig. 9. Reynolds's portrait of Mrs. Siddons shows the effect of the contrast afforded by a black hat and powdered hair
Fig. 10. In Raeburn's "Portrait of a Lady" the grey poudre effect is heightened by a broad Ieghorn hat and white berthe