7/21/2008

Hair-do of the week - The Lace-maker

This is the painting 'The Lace-maker' by the Dutch artist Jan Vermeer, dated to 1669-1670. It shows the lace-maker bent over her work which gives a clear view of her hair-do, which is both simple and intricate at the same time.

The Dutch women of the 17th century usually wore some kind of veil over their hair when they were married and the obvious lack of it in this picture makes it plausible that this is an unmarried woman – and that gives a much clearer view of her hair.


She had long hair, but all of it was used in creating the coiffure. The hair was divided into three parts, and was kept this way quite firmly – it was not a hair-do that included any loose ends or curls. The bang was parted at the middle of the forehead and then fell in two thick curls on both side of her face. It is obvious that the lower part of the curls is somehow kept from falling into her face which would have hindered her in her work. How this is done is not possible to see in the painting. The second part of the hair, the hair at the top of the head is slick, kept close to the head. The last part of the hair was gathered in a braid, or braids, that was formed into a circle at the back of the head and pinned there to stay firmly in place.


This was the time of the baroque, the most voluptuous and over-worked art-forms ever to be witnessed in western Europe – but it did not include women’s hair-dos.

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