Thursday, November 12, 2015

Return Engagement: Arrows in the Hair, 1805-1830

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Isabella reporting,

If you followed Loretta's directions for creating a fashionable early 19th c. hair style and the hair pomade to keep it in place, you're now ready to finish off your Apollo's Knot coiffure with a trendy ornament. Flowers, jewels, and plumes were most customary, but according to fashion plates and portraits, another popular option was an arrow.

The point and shaft of the arrow was thrust through the top of the hair, like a narrow miss by William Tell (though in the fashion plate right, the arrow must have been made in two pieces, to make both ends stick out the front of the hair. An ornament that likely began as a Neo-Classical whim - think an arrow from the quiver of the huntress-goddess Diana - seemed to slide into the Romantic Era with more sentimental connotations. The ornaments were called Cupid's Arrows or Cupid's Darts, and most appear to be brass or other gold-toned metal.

I say "appear" because I haven't been able to find any examples in on-line museum collections. My guess is that the arrows were the kind of fast-fashion hair accessory that wasn't made to last, and wasn't kept. Still, if any of you have come across a Cupid's Arrow hair ornament, I hope you'll share it – Loretta and I would love to see it!

Top left: Detail, Portrait of Nanette Kaula, by Joseph Karl Stieler, c 1829. Schönheitengalerie.
Top right: Detail, women's fashions plate, 1831.
Bottom left: Detail, Mme. Giuseppina Grassini, by Louise Élisabeth Vigee Le Brun, c. 1805. Private collection.
Bottom right: Detail from La Reunion, fashion plate, c. 1832.

9 comments:

Sarah said...

I'm sorry but I can't resist this: must 'ave been an 'arrowing experience....
Surprising that none at all survive though

Sarah said...

Just a thought; might they have been reset as brooches when the fashion died?

BethBG said...

Crown Princess Victoria wore an arrow brooch in her hair at a celebratory event the night before her wedding symbolizing cupid's arrow. Here is a link to photos: http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.com/2015/06/royal-pre-wedding-flashback-of-day-june.html

Alexandria Constantinova said...

Wow, and I thought I was dating with my ornamental chopsticks :P

Alexandria Constantinova said...

Daring, that was supposed to say

Note to self: do not comment from phone

paquin1912 said...

The FIDM Museum has one...Gold and silver toned metal, c. 1810.

paquin1912 said...

The FIDM Museum has one...Gold and silver toned metal, c. 1810.

Karen Anne said...

I give up, Beth. I must have gone back through 5 or 6 posts on that link without finding the Crown Princess Victoria one. Always nice to see Princess Mary, though, the Danish royal family is a class act. Queen Margarethe is the only royal who's managed to make a castle hygge.

Donna said...

Love this post! It probably spoke to me as I currently have pumpkins all over my house with arrow bookends driving through them!

 
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