Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A 17th century recipe for green hair

Anne Hyde, Duchess of York by Sir Peter Lely, 1662
This is a very short recipe

To make your hair seem green
The distilled water of Capers will make your hair green./Eighteen books of the secrets of art and nature by Johann Jacob Wecker, 1661

The questions this recipe brings are much longer. Does a distillation of Capers really turn hair green? I have no idea. The Caper bush, Capparis spinosa, is a bush that can be found, for example, in Mediterranean countries. It provides edible flowers, leaves and berries. It needs a long growing period and a lot of sun, so it may have been solely an imported item in the 17th century, which would make this tint quite expensive. It is certainly green and a distilled liquid would very likely provide that colour, perhaps even strong enough to provide a green tint to hair. If so it would probably not last long and I guess the hair would have to be fair if it was to show.

Intriguing. And, I am so curious about this, who, in the 17th century, would want to dye their hair green? Actors? Temporarily for a masked ball? The fashionable jet set?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spanish Wooll, a 17th century rouge recipe



The recipe

XIV. Spanish wooll, wherewith women paint their faces red.
Boil shearings of Scarlet in water of quick-lime half an hour, of which take two pound, to which put Brazil two ounces (rasped) Roch Alom, Verdegrise, of each one ounce, Gum-Arabick two drachms, boil all for half an hour, which keep for use.
XV. To do the same another way.
Take Spirit of wine one pound, Cochenele half an  ounce, rasped Brazil one ounce, Gum-Amoniack three drachms, mix and digest till the Gum is dissolved, then boil it gently and strain it for use, into which you may put old linen rags, or Spanish wooll at pleasure. / Polygraphice, William Salmon, 1672

Two recipes that differs quite a bit. The first recipe is more complicated and potentially more harmful. Shearings of Scarlet is simply scraps of red fabric, dyed with Cochineal, a bright red pigment, which is a thrifty way of taking care of the leftover after a sewing project or worn out garments. Quicklime, Calcium oxide, which is probably needed to make the fabric scraps give off its pigment, is a caustic substance which is definitely not advisable to inhale or apply to the skin. Rock alum is an astringent, and Gum Arabic a water soluble sap from acacia trees, which would bind the pigment. Brazil wood gives a brownish red pigment, but verdigris is a green pigment which is made be made from copper. It is poisonous and should not be applied to the skin. I find it a bit curious to add green pigment to rouge.  All in all, this recipe is a bit complicated, were do you obtain Cochineal dyed fabric to tear up, and is also harmful for you.

The second recipe, on the other hand, is perfectly doable. The alcohol is drying to the skin, but if one isn’t too sensitive, that isn’t harmful. It also makes use of cochineal as a pigment. Instead of Gum Arabic this recipe calls for Gum Ammoniac, a gum-resin, though I can’t really say why it is to be used instead of Gum Arabic.

These recipes are from the 17th century, but Spanish wool was available in the 18th century as well. Charles Lillie notes in The British perfumer, written around 1740 that it comes in various qualities and is cut into pads, the Spanish sort into the size and thickness of a crown piece (about 4 cm across), the Chines makes them a bit larger. There is also Spanish papers were the pigment is spread on paper instead, which makes them convenient to carry around in a picket book. He also says that the best Spanish wool should glisten in gold and green, which my version most definitely does not. Perhaps it would if there had been Verdigris in is.

Making the recipe
It was really very easy and fun to make. I used Vodka to which I added cochineal, Brazil wood and pulverized Gum Ammoniac. I stirred it a bit to dissolve the resin and then let it simmer a while before I strained it through a coffee filter. Then I saturated a piece of clean lamb’s wool into the solution and left it to dry. In retrospect I think I may have used a little more wool, but that is not really a problem. When dry I cut it into round pads. To use it one will damp a pad slightly and rub it into the skin.

As you can see it turned a very bright red. I suppose that the Brazil wood tampered the cochineal somewhat, but not so I noticed. It also became quite bright red on the skin and I think I will have to be very careful to just dampen the pad slightly, at least as long as there are a lot of pigment left.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An article on stage makeup in the 17th and 18th century

Some time ago I was asked by Talia of The Gibson Girl's Guide to Glamor if I wanted to write an article about stage makeup in the 17th and 18th century for a website she runs about Commedia dell'Arte. Which I, of course, wanted and you can now read the article here.

I wish I could have found out more, but if there is a work especially on stage makeup for these centuries, then it has eluded me. 16th century and 19th century yes, but not for 17th and 18th century. I think it is a very interesting subkect, though.

David Garrick as John Brute in 'The Provok'd Wife' by Vanbrugh, Drury Lane by Johann Zoffany, 1763

Saturday, January 04, 2014

At the vanity, 1750-1800

You may have noticed that the mythological ladies primping themselves are gion ein the 18th century. There are, of course, plently of allergorcal nakedness elsewhere, but the vanity is now for the ordinary lady, with or without an entourage of maids and friends.

This charming lady has a small pot of rouge on her table and either a swandowns puff for application, or perhaps just some crumpled fabric.
Portrait of Madame Courcelles by Jean-Baptiste Greuze

Alexander Roslin, 1755-1760
The Toilet, 1760

A lady at her toilet in an interior by Abraham Hendrick van Beesten, 1762
 
Van Loo

Powder box with a powderpuff with a handle as well as a cabinet that sems to contain bottles of various kinds.
Source
Powderbox with puff and a small brush beside it. I winder to what? Powdering face, rouge, clothes?
A family scene by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, 1778

A Woman at her Toilet with a Maid, a Boy, a Dog and a Young Soldier; verso: A Sketch for a Similar Composition by Johann Eleazar Zeissig, called Schenau, 1770
 
The Morning Toilet by Pehr Hilleström
 
The lady and her maidservant at the morning toilet
 
 
 Not an ordinary toilet room but an actress dressing room, but it is worth noting that she has just about the same thing on it as other ladies.
An Actress at Her Toilet, or Miss Brazen just Breecht, anonymous artist after John Collet, 1779

Pehr Hilleström

My favourite pictures are those were you get a glimpse on how the hairstyle is constructed. Here you get a view on both the front and the side.
Mademoiselle Du T... by Jean-François Janinet, 1779


Source
 A hair that has completely broken down.
The Broken Mirror by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763
Two back views that clearly shows how hairstyles was worked in sections, first the front, and then one could arrange the backhair in curls, braids, etc.
An Interior With A Young Lady At Her Toilet, Combing Her Hair Before A Mirror by Johann Anton de Peters

A woman combing her hair in front of the mirror by Pehr Hilleström
What to do when one hasn't got a special powder room. Protect the furniture with a screen and draped curtains and protect the floor with a piece of cloth.The lady herself is swathed in a powder cape.

La Coiffure by Baptiste Mallet

 
The Toilet by Robert Sayer, London. 1786


The English Dressing Room, Stipple engraving by P. W. Tomkins after Chas. Ansell published 1789

Lady with attendant, engraving by Jean Francois Janinet after Nicolas Lawrence
 
The Coquette at her Toilet, after George Morland


Dressing for a ball, 1797
There is an abundance of satirical drawings depicting vain men and women in the 18th century, but the items of the dressing table looks just about the same as in more serious paintings.

Frontispiece to Anstey's election ball, 1776

The Lady's Maid or Toilet Head Dress, 1776
 
Source


The English Shaver of Frenchman in the Suds, 1772

Source


The Coiffure, model attributed to Gottlieb Friedrich Riedel, c. 1770

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Pre-orders from 18th Century Hair and Wig Styling is up!

You can now pre-order 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling through Indiegogo. The pre-order price is lower than it will be if you buy it after the book has been published and you also get a chance to sponsor a unique book. You can read why at Kendra's blog here. And go and read more at Indiegogo.

 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

At the vanity, 1700-1750

Madame has a number boxes and pots, one undoubtly for powder and one for jewelry. There is also a large brush behind the mirrror that looks like it is meant for clothes. It is worth noting that everything on the vanity is a matching set. Colour and shape suggest laquered goods from China. She seems to be in the process of applying rouge while listening to what the visiting priest is reading.
La toilette de Madame Geoffrin by Nicholas Lancret (1690-1743)

The lady above use her fingers for her rouge, but Madame de Pompadour use a small brush to apply hers. It might have been a matter for preference, but a rouge based on fat is easier to apply with the fingers and a dry one with a brush, so that might also be a reason. The powder puff with the small handle is meant to freshen up the powdered hair. An illustration plate from Encyclopédie Méthodique, Arts Mécaniques show a very similar puff.
 
Madame de Pompadour at Her Toilette by François Boucher, 1750's

Similar rouge box and brush.
Enamelled gold box for rouge and patches with brush by Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, 1780-1782
This unknown lady is in the process of applying her patches, the lid of her patch box showing a portrait of a man, probably her lover. One can suspect that the powder puff, which looks exactly the same as the one of the portrait of Madame de Pompadour, was one of Boucher's props.
A Lady Applying A Beauty Patch by Francois Boucher
It seems to have been quite popular to have been painted with a patch ready at a finger tip. More matching, probably laquered boxes. I wonder if it is the handle of a brush we are seeing.
Anne de La Grangem Trianon by François-Hubert Drouais, (1727-1775)
 
La Mouche, A Lady at Her Toilet by Louis Tocque

Beside the patch box there are also a jewelry box and a rouge brush on the vanity. And a cylindrical etui, which I am curious about. anyone who knows what it was used for? Needles perhaps, though it seems a bit too big for that.
Portrait of Marquise de Gast by Donatien Nonnotte, 1743
Despite being a charicature, the vanity table looks very much like they do on more serious pictures.
La Folie Pare La Decrepitude Des Ajustements De La Jeunesse by Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694-1752)
Many vanity tables on 18th century paintings seems to have been especially furnished for that purpose, with cloth fitted over them, but there are also paintings were the table have several purposes. There is also a charming drawing by Sergel, which I can't find online, of a lady getting her hair dressed by her maid in the kitchen, while food is being prepared in the background.
A Lady at Her toilet by Jean Raoux, 1727
Queen Caroline at Windsor at her dressing table with her two oldest children, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York:by Johann Zoffany
Circle of The Master of the Reflessi
 
François Hubert Drouais

 A lady in the process of powdering her hair
A Lady at her toilet table, dressed in a peignoir by an unknown artist, c. 1750
Not a vanity painting, but I include it because the little girl still have her curling paper in her hair, a nice peek into the process of dressing hair.
Madame Liotard and her Daughter by Jean-etienne Liotard (1702-1789)