Sunday, July 24, 2011

Was Mary Queen of Scots a Redhead?

I recently came across this in a periodical called ‘Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc.’ It appears on page 251 of the 1882 July-December issue and concerns the hair colour of Mary Queen of Scots.
“The colour of the hair of Mary Queen of Scots has often been a disputed point, so many of her pictures having hair of quite different tones of colour; for this reason I looked with much interest at a miniature lent by the Queen some few years ago to one of the loan exhibitions of old masters at Burlington House. This was a square miniature on ivory, half length, and from the date and general appearance may have been the one sent by Mary to Elizabeth before the death of her husband Francis II., as there was one sent about that time, and after his death Mary would have been represented in her "white mourning." The age of this portrait seemed to agree with the date; the dress was pink velvet or satin with pearl ornaments; the hair was very fair, and more decidedly red than I have seen in any other picture - in fact, the same colour as in the early portraits of Elizabeth - and the colour of the whole very fresh.”
Another commenter then posits on the following page;
“I have a miniature of her in a gold setting (French) of her period, which represents her with blue eyes and red hair. I believe it is known that she wore wigs of different colours, for most of her portraits give her dark brown hair. We may, perhaps, conclude from this that her hair was really red, and, of course, her eyes blue, as few persons would choose red hair, but might prefer to appear with it dark.”

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