If you followed Loretta's directions for creating a fashionable early 19th c. hair styleand 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.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.