4/14/2008

Hair-do of the week - Italian woman, 1480-1489


This whole picture is a prime example of the Italian Renaissance. It is shown both in the technique in painting and the motive itself.

This is not one of the Madonnas of the Middle Ages, this is a contemporary young lady who is a prime example of the fashion of the time. And her hair is a master-piece in itself.

Her hair is long, and very thick, a must to make this work. She has a fringe that is parted at the forehead. In the 15th century it was very popular to show off a lot of forehead. Her long fringe is hanging as a curtain around her face while the main part of the hair being gathered in a thick bundle on her back, tied together with a brown ribbon. Another part of her hair is caught in what is probably one braid - though you cannot be sure. It is long but rather thin. It is adorned with a great amount of pearls and is a significant contrast to her lack of regular jewellery. The hair was obviously a part of the dress, just in the same way as a heavy necklace would have been. On the top of her head there are four pearls, bigger than the ones in the braid. It looks almost like a crown or tiara.

We do not know who the sitter for this portrait is. We can figure out that she is Italian, and being obviously rich it is probable she is from one of many princely families of the peninsula - and she is in all probability unmarried.

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