5/24/2008

Hair-do of the week - Mrs. János Matta, 1860

This is a detail of a painting is done by the Hungarian painter Miklós Barabás in 1860. It is now to be viewed in Déri Museum, Debrecen, Hungary, together with the portrait of her husband, Mr. János Matta from the same year.

This portrait clearly shows both her clearly influenced the Hungarian upper classes were of the European fashion of the time, and just as clearly it shows how the hair-dos of the time looked like.

The hair-style had not changed much since the 1850's, the hair lay flat on the top of the head and parted in the middle. It was then shaped into a frame to the face. In this example the hair closest to the face is hanging down like a curtain, and over most the ears. The next part of the hair is parted away from the hair closest to the face and twirled or braided into a thick shape that makes the head all the more round, the ideal shape of the female head at the time.

Since it is a painted portrait it is of course impossible to say too much about the back of the head. What is visible is the fact that the hair is adorned by a couple of pink or light red roses and there is some kind of lace fastened to the hair-do, either as a ribbon or as some kind of veil.

The lady herself is more enigmatic than her hairstyle. All that I have been able to find out about her is the obvious: that she was married to Mr. János Matta and that she was, in all probability Hungarian - at least that is where she lived and her husband was.

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