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07 May 2020Powder and Poison: Cosmetics, Beauty and the Art of Portraiture
04 June 2020Mad Men and Artists: How the Advertising Industry Exploited Fine Art

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Powder and Poison: Cosmetics, Beauty and the Art of Portraiture Claire Walsh Thursday 07 May 2020

This lecture has been cancelled but will take place in the 2021-22 season.

Why do people look the way they do in portraits of the past? From the alarmingly lead-whitened cheeks of the Renaissance, to the disappearing hairlines and mouse-hair eyebrows of the 17 th and 18 th centuries and rouged cheeks of the Victorians, portraits have been governed by cosmetics, fashions and ever-changing concepts of beauty. Not only women, but men too were at the mercy of changing trends in hair styles, wigs, jewellery, smallpox patches and artificial teeth. From the application of rhubarb or boiled pigeon, mercury or lead, powders and poisons have dominated the ‘look of an age’. While the portraitist strove to capture the individual, this had to be translated through the mask of stylish convention, balancing reality with the ideal of beauty.