Sunday, May 24, 2015

John William Waterhouse

A few redheads in the works of John William Waterhouse today. The first painting is The Soul of the Rose. The woman portrayed has deep auburn hair ...or maybe, looking at it, you could say she's more of a brunette, but it's such a great painting we'll let that slip.

The second painting is Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May. The lady in this one is definitely red-haired :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

...And Now The Science

I recently received a message from someone who penned a really interesting blog post titled All About Redheads. It draws an analogy between red hair and the taming of wolves and dogs. Noting that as successive generations of wolves are bred to be tamer their coats become lighter.

The post can be found here;

It links hair colouration to the conditioning of the Fear Response.
"...breeding out wildness and breeding in tameness changes the body chemistry in such a way as to reduce the production of all the metabolic products of Phenylanine and Tyrosine, including Adrenalin, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Melanin."
Melanin is the pigment that turns your skin and hair dark.

The author further states;
"In humans, redheads are way over-represented in Math, Logic, Science, Philosophy, and Comedy ...Whyizzat? High levels of Adrenalin (Epinephrine) are associated with Athleticism and Anxiety. Low levels of Adrenalin are associated with Scholarship and Coolness. And one of the markers for that is the associated low levels of Melanin — e.g. redheadedness. "
A fascinating theory. The author also links red hair to the 'Ninth Intelligence". More information on which can be found here;


Italian Sayings and Proverbs about Red Hair

Emanuela has also kindly translated some Italian sayings and proverbs into English for me :) They're quite revealing and reinforce the attitudes most other nationalities have about red hair.

The bracketed comments are Emanuela's.
  • Red-haired beauties have 1000 devils each hair (this reminds me of a Russian proverb I read recently, saying "There are no saints with red hair").
  • When in a redheads’ house, don’t eat and don’t drink unless you know them
  • God protect us from women, cough and redheads
  • Those with red hair die before you get to know them
  • Those with red hair have shaken nerves
  • Better to have a death in the family than a redhead at the door (that’s awful!)
  • Women with red hair are eager of co*k (and pardon my French!)
  • Not even red-coated pigs are good.
  • The kindest of redheads threw his/her father into a weel, or
  • The kindest of redheads killed his/her mother
  • Children with red hair and piebald cats (or dogs) are to be killed at childbirth (that’s terrible, especially for kittens!)
  • Stay away from people with red hair
  • Lucky those who believe in bona-fide redheads.

Some Miscellaneous Red-Haired Figures

...and now a few miscellaneous redheads with nowhere else to go.

Firstly, a few Islamic rulers. Abd ar-Rahman I was the 1st Emir of Córdoba. It's said he had red hair which he inherited from his mother, a Christian Berber slave.

Muhammed VI, Sultan of Granada also had red hair. He was supposedly known in Spanish as "El Bermejo" because of it.

Next up some rulers that may have been red-haired, but which I only have pictures to back the claim up :)

In this picture Alfonso III of Asturias looks rather red-haired. He was king of León, Galicia and Asturias.

This picture of the similarly named Alfonso III of Aragon also looks remarkable ginger. He was called "the Liberal" or "the Free".

And finally, Mircea I of Wallachia - he was Dracula's grandfather! In this picture he's noticeably red-haired.

The Red-Haired Gertrude Bell

Another cool red-haired female. And another Emanuela find :)

This one is quite close to my heart as Gertrude Bell has links to my own home town of Middlesbrough. Her father was Sir Hugh Bell, three times Mayor of Middlesbrough, and her grandfather was the industrialist Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell who, with his brothers, established a major ironworks at Port Clarence on the River Tees.

Gertrude herself was a writer, explorer and spy amongst many other things. She had "reddish hair and piercing blue-green eyes".

Shirley Manson - Garbage

On the topic of red-haired pirates and mermaids I thought I'd give a shout out to Shirley Manson. I don't normally mention modern reds, but I've been listening to Garbage quite a lot whilst reading up on some of this stuff and I'd forgotten how unique-sounding they were.

Seeing Shirley Manson also reminds me how other red hair looks.

Great band.

Rusalka - Red-Haired Mermaids/Water Nymphs

From pirates to mermaids... I came across this whilst searching about the etymology of the word Russia - rus possibly being an allusion to red, and by extension red hair.

Anyway, it transpires that in Eastern Europe there's a tradition regarding female water-spirits named Rusalka. The name apparently translating, quite literally, as "red-haired girl". This is really fascinating. I was completely unaware of this tradition and it really adds a new dimension to the whole mythology of red hair.

Wikipedia writes;
Rusalka is a water nymph, a female spirit in Slavic mythology. Her name comes directly from East Slavic русалка (originally meaning "red-haired girl") and still vernacularly translates as "mermaid" from Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian (even though in literal sense, this is incorrect). Rusalka also appears in West Slavic folklore under the names rusalka (Czech, Slovak) or rusałka (Polish).
The link between "red-haired girl" and "mermaid" is equally fascinating.

The whole Wikipedia article is quite fascinating too (and refreshingly short) for anyone interested.

The water spirits were supposedly the spirits of girls who had drowned, and would lure young men to their deaths. They were apparently at their most dangerous during Rusalka Week (green week). The whole legend seems quite tied up with pagan fertility rites.

This is all also quite interesting to me as I've speculated elsewhere that the name Mary Magdalene can be translated as "mermaid". She, of course, was also supposedly red-haired. Maybe these same rites and myths were once common in other parts of Europe too.

I'm going to write a full article covering this in much more depth at some point, as I feel it's a topic worthy of much more attention. I'll probably put that one on the main website.

..And Flame-Haired Female Pirates

Emanuela also brought to my attention some red-haired female pirates. I think this stuff is pretty cool and they deserve to be more widely known.

Firstly, Anne Bonny. Anne was a pirate who operated in the Caribbean. She had red hair and apparently a fiery temper (unsurprisingly perhaps).

Next up, Jacquotte Delahaye. She was a French pirate and also operated in the Caribbean. According to Wikipedia she was the subject of many legendary stories.
"To escape her pursuers, she faked her own death and took on a male alias, living as a man for many years. Upon her return, she became known as "back from the dead red" because of her striking red hair."
And finally, Grace O'Malley. She was an Irish chieftain and Queen of Umaill. She had long red hair and Wikipedia mentions this story about her.
"According to Irish legend, as a young girl O'Malley wished to go on a trading expedition to Spain with her father. Upon being told she could not because her long hair would catch in the ship's ropes, she cut off most of her hair to embarrass her father into taking her, thus earning her the nickname "Gráinne Mhaol" (from maol - bald or having cropped hair)."
Elsewhere I found reference to her brother being red-haired. This comes from the Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes by Graham Seal. I'll quote it in full as the story bears repeating.
The second story involves Grace O'Malley's brother, the Red-Haired Smith. Grace thinks he is an even finer man than her husband, Burke. Burke is jealous and tells Grace he will prove his superiority when the Red-Haired Smith next comes to visit. Over dinner, Burke tells the Red-Haired Smith that Grace thinks he is the better man, an opinion that, Burke says, he finds insulting. A fight ensues in which the Red-Haired Smith is killed. Burke then beheads the body and carries the head to Grace, inviting her to cry all she wished. Instead, Grace takes hold of her own rapier, goes into the garden where her two teenage sons are playing, and cuts off their heads. She carries these to her husband saying, "Tis your turn to cry now!...While you weep for your two sons, I'll weep for my brother, the Red-Haired Smith."

Red Hair and Spanish Royalty

I've recently being looking into whether Philip IV of Spain was a redhead or not. I haven't found any quoted references yet, but in his pictures he certainly looks to be one. Not only that, many other members of his immediate family look also quite red-haired.

This is Philip IV himself.

Supposedly he had an illegitimate son with an actress called María Inés Calderón - pictured here with red hair.

His son Charles II also looks distinctly red-haired according to his paintings. Charles II died heir-less and was known as "the Bewitched". In the following picture of him his red hair is so vivid it seems to be deliberately highlighted. The picture is quite bizarre actually, I'd be interested to know what all the symbolism in it means.

Philip IV's daughter, Maria Theresa of Spain, was also very gingerish according to her pictures.

However, her sister, Margaret Theresa of Spain looks like more of a blond.

Philip IV's father, Philip III of Spain also looks distinctly ginger.

And one of Philip IV's preceding rulers in the Spanish Netherlands, Isabel Clara Eugenia, also looks curiously red-haired. Again another red-haired Isabella/Elizabeth ruler.

I also found this picture, depicting her and her look-a-likey dwarf ..very strange! Almost Twin Peaks like.

More Flame-Haired Conquistadors!

We've already mentioned on here the fact that both Ponce de Leon and Vasco Núñez de Balboa were redheads. And we've mentioned that Christopher Columbus was also red-haired (or at the very least freckled). Anyway, we can now add a few more to the list of New World explorers.

Firstly, Pedro de Alvarado. He was was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala. According to Wikipedia he was called "Red Sun" by the indigenous people, and it goes on to state that one possible reason for this name may have been his red hair. However, later on, on the same Wikipedia page it states that he had blond hair and beard, so I don't know what to believe. He was apparently renowned for his cruel treatment of the native population, so maybe it would be best to disown him as a blondie.

We've also found reference on-line to Hernan Cortes being red-haired. It's stated that the Aztecs mistakenly believed that Cortes was the god Quetzalcoatl - who was characterised by light skin, light eyes and red hair. Cortes was also another wrong 'un. The song "Cortes the Killer" by Neil Young springs to mind.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama has also been suggested as another potential redhead, however, references for this have been hard to come by.

Incidentally, on the explorer theme, another possible redhead is the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie. The picture of him below shows hair of a fair, blonding colour.

The Revolution Continues...

Emanuela also brought another high profile red-haired figure to my attention - Lafayette.

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was an aristocratic French military officer who fought on behalf of the United States during the American Revolution. He was also a major figure in the French Revolution.

There are quite a few references on-line regarding his hair colour;
Lafayette had red hair and a long nose.
Lafayette by Joann A. Grote
Gilbert was tall and had red hair.
Marquis de Lafayette by Gregory Payan

And the following quite lucid description from a book published in the 19th century;
At this period of his life, the Marquis de Lafayette was a noble looking man, notwithstanding his deep red hair. His forehead, though receding, was fine, his eye clear hazel, and his mouth and chin delicately formed; exhibiting beauty rather than strength.;view=fulltext

The painting below of Lafayette, along with his son, George Washington Lafayette, shows them both with rather fair, reddish hair.

The Death of Chatterton - Update

A bit more news regarding the 'Death of Chatterton' painting I shared a few posts ago. Thanks to Emanuela I now know that the person who posed for the picture was the poet and novelist George Meredith. True to the image Meredith was also a redhead - so we have another red-haired poet we can add to the ever-growing list :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Redheaded Roman, Lucius Cornelius Sulla

Emanuela also brought another redhead to my attention. This one being the ancient Roman general and statesman Lucius Cornelius Sulla. According to Wikipedia he had red-blond hair, blue eyes and a dead-white face covered with red marks. The ancient historian Plutarch stated;
"His golden head of hair gave him a singular appearance."

The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis

I thought I'd share this painting today. It's by the artist Henry Wallis and depicts the death of Thomas Chatterton. Chatterton was an English poet who was famous for forging medieval poetry. He committed suicide, dying of arsenic poisoning. A fascinating figure. In this iconic painting he is shown with striking red hair.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Million Mummies ..Some Red-Haired

Any finally today, one more interesting thing I've came across. Namely this article in the Daily Mail that concerns the discovery of a mass cemetery in Egypt.

The cemetery supposedly dates to about 1500 years ago and is estimated to contain around a million bodies. Interestingly, it states that the bodies have been separated according to hair colour;
"They have also discovered that the mummies appear to be clustered together by hair colour, with those with blond hair in one area and all of those with red hair in another."
It's been suggested that this separation may be due to family members being buried close to one another - as they generally are in most cemeteries. The article dates to December 2014 so I'll have to have a good search to see if there have been any further revelations regarding this find.

The Altarpiece of the Lamentation - Joos van Cleve

I also came across this painting recently, titled the Altarpiece of the Lamentation. It's by the painter Joos van Cleve, who was active in Antwerp around 1511 to 1540.

It shows a ginger-ish Jesus, accompanied by two very red-haired women - who I'm guessing are both a Mary of some description. There's also a cool-looking skull and bones beneath the saviour.

At the bottom of the picture is a Last Supper scene which also shows some distinctly ginger people.

These two in particular - no doubt the bottom one is El Judas.

More Red-Haired Royals and Nobles

Firstly Sigismund of Luxemberg, Holy Roman Emperor. In childhood he was nicknamed the "ginger fox" because of his hair colour. He looks rather more grey in this picture though :/

Next up, Maximilian Sforza, son of Ludovico Sforza, aka Ludovico il Moro. Maximilian was Duke of Milan and ruled from 1512 to 1515. He looks very ginger in this picture!

Following on from Maximilian we have another Italian, Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan. She was also known as Isabella of Naples. Some have suggested she was the sitter for Leonardo da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting. In this portrait by Giulio Romano, a pupil of Raphael, she looks very Mona Lisa-like. Complete with thick reddish hair.

Next we mover to more northerly climes. I found these two pictures whilst looking on-line today. In both the images the people depicted look very red-haired, although I could find no contemporary descriptions confirming this. The first one is John of Denmark, eldest child of Christian II of Denmark. The second is Christina of Saxony, who was Queen consort of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (she married a different John of Denmark).

Actually, I've just been looking into things further and it turns out that John of Denmark's mother was also red-haired (at least according to her pictures). She was called Isabella of Austria - yet another red-haired Isabella!

[Update: I've just found out that the picture of Christina of Saxony, shown above, is actually from a Lucas Cranach the Elder work titled Saints Genevieve and Apollonia. So I'm guessing that isn't her ...that'll teach me to go stealing pictures from Wikipedia :p

Still, the two women pictured look fairly red-haired.]

..And More Famous Redheads

Emanuela also brought some more redheads to my attention :D

Firstly, another Spanish explorer to go with the red-haired Ponce de Leon;- Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Balboa was an explorer, governor and conquistador. He was the first European to lead an expedition to reach the Pacific from the New World. The following description of him comes from a book titled Vasco Nunez de Balboa: Explorer of the Pacific;
"The young Spaniard was everything a future conquistador should be - intelligent, courageous, bold, and well trained in the art of swordsmanship. The only thing that the red-haired Balboa lacked was wealth."
Another possible redhead was Marie Antoinette. Most people state that Marie Antoinette was a blond, however some have stated that her hair was more a strawberry-blond colour.

In many of her portraits she looks typically blond, however the following portrait shows a much more orangey colour.

And finally a really interesting person to add to the redhead collection - Mozart.

The following quote about him can be found on this page;
"You'll never see it in his portraits, but under the powdered wigs, he apparently had light red hair. Go to the right museum and you can even see a lock of it for yourself."
If Mozart really was a redhead that would be fascinating :)

A Few More Updates Regarding Lord Byron

..once again courtesy of Emanuela :)

Firstly, this passage from a Guardian article;
Hundreds of these women wrote to Byron, often anonymously, furtively, entreating him for a sample of his handwriting, signed copies of his work, a curl of his dark auburn hair, a clandestine meeting.
And secondly, this passage from a book titled The Works of George Byron, which quotes a traveller's encounter with Byron;
"On entering the inner shop he took off his feathered cocked-hat and showed a head of curly auburn hair."
The Works of George Byron

She also provided this image, which shows his hair as much fairer and lighter than is normally depicted;

I think from all this we can safely say that his hair was at very least of the auburn shade.