10/31/2008

Hair-do of the week - Lute-player in 1610


This is a detail from the painting "The Lute Player", done circa 1610 by the Italian painter Orazio Lomi Gentileschi. It shows a young girl, holding a lute - with her back mostly turned to the viewer, which gives a good glimpse of her hair-do.

This is at the same time as Elizabeth I of England and the women around her could show off very contrived coiffures with artificial curls and a general air of unnaturalness about it. This Italian girl shows nothing of that. Instead, her hair is really simple and natural - and it shows that when we talk about "17th century fashion" or "typical hair around 1600" we have to be very aware of that it differed quite a lot. It was due to where people lived, how they did it, what circles they moved in - and what part of fashion influenced them. There were not just ONE type of fashion going around. There were several.

She has long, blond hair that has been braided and the braids are then pinned up in big loops, leaving her back free. Her hair is parted at the top of her head and she has no bangs. It is a simple hair-do that you could do yourself, that did not require a maid - and hardly even a mirror (good mirrors did not exist at this time). It is a hair-do that peasant-girls could have had - but this is hardly a peasant-girl. No peasant-girl would sit down with a lute, for that you needed to be at least a part of the middle class (and if it was not to paint a religious motif this was long before the 18th and 19th centuries habit of going to the country to paint rustic motives of peasant girls 'au naturell' so to speak).

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