Thursday, September 19, 2013

Arrows in the Hair, 1805-1830

Thursday, September 19, 2013

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.


Sarah said...

Looks like an 'arrowing experience.

I'm sorry, really I am [dodges behind potted palm] but I can't pass up a pun....

Chris Woodyard said...

Wonderful images! While the arrows pictured do look like they are made of stamped or cast brass, the ornaments were also made of finer metals, set with diamonds. This is the rapacious Queen Maria Luisa, by Goya. I am sorry it's not a better illustration. I've seen the picture in person and the diamonds are brilliant.

Chris Woodyard said...

A couple more notes on hair arrows: Here, too a word or two may be said about the personal ornaments of the peasants in so far as they are made of metal. Very frequently they are of some other material, for instance, bone or horn, like the hair ornaments, fancy combs, and arrows for the hair in Tyrol.
Peasant art in Austria and Hungary
By A. S. Levetus, Michael Haberlandt, Aladár Kriesch 1911, p. 29
And an illustration of an arrow coiffure in 1892. 1892

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Thanks for the links, Chris! No doubt that those are "fine-jewelry" arrows. Now that you've jogged my memory, I think I've seen other Edwardian ones with diamonds, too.

In fact, I did come across a very modern example with diamonds, worn by HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden:

padutchchick said...

The whole arrow trend is wildly popular again right least in jewelry and home decor!

Unknown said...

In Anthony Trollope's book "Nina Balatka", he refers to them: "In the back of her hair she still carried that Diana's dart, which maidens wear in those parts (Prague) when they are not only maidens unmarried, but maidens also disengaged". Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I've seen this hairstyle called an Apollo - so the arrow would tie in nicely with that idea.

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