Monday, April 27, 2015

Another Red-Haired Judas and Magdalene

I can't remember for the life of me where I spotted these images, but it was on some TV show or other. They're from a depiction of the Last Supper. I'm guessing the red-haired guy next to Jesus is Judas, and the red-haired lady washing his feet, Mary Magdalene. I think the Judas looks surprisingly serene and benevolent

Redheads in Ancient Greek Art

The following images I noticed on an episode of the BBC4 series Treasures of Ancient Greece. They were on an item of pottery and show two people with dark copper red hair. Whether the intention was to depict redheads or the red colouring just a consequence of the pigments used I'm not sure, but they look fairly gingery to me :p

Edward I - Red or Blond?

Some red-haired images that I've came across whilst watching TV over the last week or so. I came across the following on a BBC documentary about the Pantagenets. They show Edward I of England, aka Edward Longshanks with reddish-brown hair.

However,  according to Wikipedia his hair was more of a blond colour.
The historian Michael Prestwich states that his "long arms gave him an advantage as a swordsman, long thighs one as a horseman. In youth, his curly hair was blond; in maturity it darkened, and in old age it turned white. [His features were marred by a drooping left eyelid.] His speech, despite a lisp, was said to be persuasive."

Redhead: Painter Paulus Potter

The dutch painter Paulus Potter was another redhead. He specialised in painting animals and landscapes. The following portrait of him by Bartholomeus van der Helst shows him with red hair ...and looking rather modern.

A Few Red-Haired Poets and Writers :)

Lord Byron

It's been suggested that the English poet Lord Byron was a redhead. However, I've struggled to find out whether this was the case or not. In all his images he appears quite dark haired. I did find this one reference to red hair though. It's from a book titled Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, and it comes from a letter written by Byron to a certain Mr Bankes;
"I forget whether you admire or tolerate red hair, so that I rather dread showing you all that I have about me and around me in this city"
However, I can't really tell exactly who or what he's referring to here. The flowery language of the letter is a little bit too much for me to get my head around xD

The letter can be found in its entirety here for anyone who's more in tune with Romantic poetry and thinks they may be able to make some sense of it.
Letters and Journals

Percy Bysshe Shelley

On the topic of Romantic poets though I did come across this image of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. It shows him as a child with quite vivid red hair.

D. H. Lawrence

It's said that the writer D. H. Lawrence was red-haired. Whilst searching for evidence of this I came across this passage on Google Books from a book titled D.H. Lawrence: A Reference Companion by Paul Poplawski and John Worthen. It illustrates just how difficult it can be to find an accurate description of a persons appearance.
If, however, we draw simply upon memoirs written of Lawrence by people who knew him some extraordinary divergences can be observed. His Croydon headmaster, who met him in 1908, remembered him as having "a shock of dark hair", and at least one other person who knew him when young referred to him as "dark-haired".
Helen Corke, however, who first saw him in 1909, recalled "fair hair," as did Ford Madox Hueffer and Violet Hunt, first seeing him late in 1909, who remembered "sun-shot tawny hair" and "yellow hair". In 1917, Esther Andrews noted "ash-coloured hair," while a Berkshire friend, Cecily Lambert, the following year, saw "mousey blonde hair".
In 1923, Dorothy Brett saw "dark, gold hair"; three years later, Montague Weekley thought Lawrence "sandy-haired". David Garnett, however, who met him in 1912, recalled his hair tint as "bright mud-colour, with a streak of red in it"; Catherine Carswell remembered "thick dust-coloured hair" in 1914, and Richard Aldington, who also met him in 1914, remembered his "bright red hair".
Ottoline Morrell remembered a "mass of red hair," though the writer Douglas Goldring recalled only "a reddish 'quiff'": but Compton Mackenzie (who saw him in 1914 and again in 1920) thought he had "wavy reddish hair", and Rebecca West (1892-1983) described his hair in 1921 as "pale luminous red".
Lawrence himself once remarked that his hair had "got no particular colour at all", but he also responded to someone who remarked that - with red hair like his - of course he would have a temper, "announcing that his hair was not red, that it used to be pure yellow gold and now was brown; his beard might be red, but his hair was golden brown!"

The mention of Lady Ottoline Morrell, who described him with a "mass of red hair", is quite apt as she had flame-red hair herself and was supposedly the inspiration for the character of Hermione Roddice in Lawrence's novel "Women in Love."

George Bernard Shaw

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw was also a redhead. The journalist Frank Harris described him as "thin as a rail, with a long, bony, bearded face," stating "his untrimmed beard was reddish, though his hair was fairer." The essayist and caricaturist Max Beerbohm mentioned the he had pallid pitted skin and red hair like seaweed.

A. C. Swinburne

Another redhead was the poet A. C. Swinburne. I've found two quotes that bear this out. The first is from a volume titled The Yale Edition of the Swinburne Letters and gives this account of him from 1861;
"Swinburne is a strange fellow, young, beardless, with a shock of red hair."
The Yale Edition of the Swinburne Letters

And the following, slightly less heart-warming account, comes from a work titled A.C. Swinburne and the Singing World by a Dr Yisrael Levin. It quotes Sir Osbert Sitwell having a conversation with an old Etonian;
"I remember well when I went to Eton" said the old gentleman, "the head boy called us together, and, pointing to a little fellow with curly red hair, said, 'kick him if you are near enough, and if you are not near enough, throw a stone at him.' I have often wondered what became of him. His name was Swinburne."

Harry Sinclair Lewis

And finally, one last redhead was the American writer Harry Sinclair Lewis. The journalist and critic H.L. Mencken wrote the following of him;
"[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade ... it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds."

Flame Haired French Folks

First Michel Ney. Ney was a French soldier and military commander during the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars. He was nicknamed Le Rougeaud - "red faced" or "ruddy" - by his men. From his portraits it would appear he had blondish-red hair and blue eyes. Elsewhere on the net it states he was nicknamed ginger for his flowing red hair. Another site says his men nicknamed him 'Michel le Rouge' or the 'Lion rouge' because of it.

And secondly, Madeleine Béjart. Béjart was a famous seventeenth century French actress and theatre director. It's said she had flaming red hair.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Red-Haired Roland and A Red-Haired Charlemagne?

...and finally today one more redhead Emanuela has kindly brought to my attention. This time it's Charlemagne's knight Roland. I came across this depiction of him on-line, showing him receiving his famed sword, Durendal, from Charlemagne.

I think in this picture he's the central figure in the full suit of armour, so we can't see his hair colour. However, pretty much everyone else in the picture looks decidedly red-haired - including Charlemagne himself.

I'm not sure from what period the image dates from, so it's difficult to draw conclusions from it. Obviously the red hair shown could just be a stylistic choice on the part of the artist. The red background, red clothing and red hair make it a very red image indeed!

Emanuela's email also mentioned a fair few red-haired writers and artists that I wasn't previously aware of as well. Hopefully I'll post about them over the next week or so :)

More Red-Haired Presidents..

She also brought to my attention the fact that American Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant were all red-haired.

Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the USA. He had sandy red hair and was nicknamed "Red" in his youth because of it.

His official portrait shows him looking distinctly ginger.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President. Sadly, I couldn't find a gingeresq picture of him though :(

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President. Interestingly, his first name was actually Hiram. Very Masonic. Unsurprisingly I guess for US Presidents of the time. Again finding a definitive image is difficult, most being portraits or black and white photographs. The general consensus seems to be that he had dark brown/sandy coloured hair.

Physiognomy of Man and of Heaven - Giovanbattista della Porta

Emanuela, my Italian correspondent also emailed me some interesting pieces of information she has come across in the work "Physiognomy of man and of heaven" by the Italian polymath Giovanbattista della Porta (1535? - 1615).
"The colour red of hair shows wrath and treason, as Aristotle wrote to Alexander, maybe that was the colour of Typhon."
"But Aristotle in his Physiognomy writes: Red-haired men are vicious, because they look like foxes. Polemon and Adamantius say: If the colour of hair is more red than due, like the pomegranate, it can't show good things in men, since most of them are keen to the habits of beasts. Adamantius adds: They're insolent and greedy of money. Aristotle calls this colour pyrroiagan, which shows the nature of a deceptive fox. Doctors say that red hair turns white sooner than black. That is, the redness is almost a weakness of hair, which soon grows old."
We're not entirely sure about the word pyrroiagan, but we think it relates to the word pyro, as in fire (quite fittingly).
"Plautus, in his Asinaria, depicts Leonidas as red-haired, almost vicious, full of treasons and greedy. Pyrrhus, Akilles' son, was called Neoptolemus, but he was named Pyrrhus after his fiery red hair, as Sevius says. Martial, in order to show that his Zoilus was vicious and insidious, said he was red-haired. The emperor Alexios Komnenos had long and very red hair, like gold."
"Valentinian was red-haired, with beautiful eyes and austere. According to Cedrano, Phocas had red hair."

A Hidden Red-Haired Jesus

More intriguing information courtesy of Italia today. This is a really fascinating find. According to this page, research into the Rabula Gospels (the first dated Christian manuscript) uncovered the fact that some of the images in the document had been repainted. With the hair of Jesus being changed from "curly red" to "straight black".

The page links to a New York Times article which states the following;
"Pigment tests and scientific analyses of the illustrated manuscript have revealed that the illustrations of A.D. 586 were repainted after it entered the Medicis' Laurentian Library in the 16th century, where it remains today. The oversized book, originally produced in a Syrian monastery, includes the first dated pictorial representation of the Crucifixion. Tests revealed, among other things, that in the repainting, Jesus's curly red hair was restyled as black and straight."
This is fascinating as it would suggest that the earliest dated depiction of Jesus actually showed him with red hair.

It makes a refreshing change from Judas being depicted as a redhead xD

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Yet Another Tudor Redhead - Arthur, Prince of Wales

I've just read that Arthur, Prince of Wales - elder brother to Henry VIII - was a redhead.

Arthur grew up to be unusually tall for his age, and was considered handsome by the Spanish court: he had reddish hair, small eyes, a high-bridged nose and resembled his brother Henry, who was said to be "extremely handsome" by contemporaries.

Rosso Malpelo - "Evil Hair"

More from the Mediterranean. This is probably my favourite thing so far. It's a short story by the Italian writer Giovanni Verga called Rosso Malpelo. It was written in 1878. The name Rosso Malpelo is Sicilian for "red evil-hair" and is the nickname given to the red-haired child who is central to the story. Interestingly, it's said that Sicilians believed that red-haired people had an evil and malicious disposition.

The story is a sad tale about a red-haired child who works in a sand mine. His father died in a mining accident and the rest of his family care little for him. He subsequently makes friends with a sickly fellow mine-worker nicknamed Frog, so-called because he walks with a limp. The story is said to be a commentary on the economic and social conditions endured by the poor working classes living in southern Italy at the time.

I really enjoyed the story. Stylistically it reminded me a little bit of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, although it was obviously a lot darker. An English translation of the story can be found here;-

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Peter the Great and Other Red-Haired Russians

My Italian correspondent also brought this painting of Peter the Great to my attention;-

It shows Peter as a child and in it his hair is clearly a reddish colour. In most other paintings the Russian ruler is shown with dark hair, however many of these paintings appear to be later representations. The only description I've found of him so far is this one from the following blog;
Filippo Baltari, a young Italian visitor to his court, described him thus: "Tsar Petr Alekseevic was of great height, more thin than fat. he had thick, short, dark chestnut hair and big, black eyes with long eyelashes."
This describes his hair as "dark chestnut" coloured which correlates quite well with the dark reddish hair depicted in the painting :)

On the topic of Russian leaders it was also mentioned that Vladimir Putin, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin were all possible redheads. I'd never thought of Putin as a redhead, but come to think of it his hair, at least what's left of it, is quite a reddish-sandy colour. Sadly most the photos on-line that show him as a youth are in black and white.

I did come across this reference to Putin's hair on the Independent's website though. It concerns the actions of the pro-Putin youth group Net (meaning Network or Fishing Net) that are active in Russia.
As Network's leader, Vikhliantsev has met Putin, but he admits that the meeting was not an unalloyed success. He suggested a mass demonstration of support in which young people would dye their hair red to echo the reddish hair of Putin, their hero. The president did not approve. "He said that for as long as he is the president, we should not go ahead with red-haired actions,"
Clearly his hair is considered reddish by some folks in Russia then.

The daughter of Joseph Stalin, Svetlana Alliluyeva, was also red-haired. The following description of her comes courtesy of Wikipedia and was given by fellow redhead Winston Churchill;
On 15 August 1942 Churchill saw her in Stalin's private apartments in the Kremlin describing her as "a handsome red-haired girl, who kissed her father dutifully." Churchill says Stalin "looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as if, so I thought, to convey 'You see, even we Bolsheviks have a family life'"
Sweet :)

Italian Noblewoman Giulia Beccaria

Another red-haired Italian was the noblewoman Giulia Beccaria. Her father was the Enlightenment philosopher and writer Cesare Baccaria and her son was the famed writer Alessandro Manzoni, author of the novel The Betrothed. It's said she had red hair and green eyes.

Red-Haired Poet; Ugo Foscolo

Following on from my last post I have another red-haired Italian revolutionary, once again gratefully provided by my Italian source Emanuela :)

This time it's the Italian writer and poet Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827).

Foscolo was an active political figure in Italy and his writing and poetry was influenced by his political ideals. He also served as a soldier. After death he became a heroic symbol of the unified Italian state. He spent the last eleven years of his life living in London.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Giuseppe Garibaldi - Red-Haired Revolutionary

In the last week I've received a few really nice emails from someone in Italy that contain a lot of information about red hair that I was previously unaware of. I owe a great debt of gratitude to them because lots of the information is really interesting and pertinent to some of the themes I've covered on here.

I'll start first with the fact that Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian politician and general, was a redhead. This fact really surprised me and pleased me. I can now add it to my list of other red-haired revolutionary figures such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Oliver Cromwell and the "chestnut" haired Maximilien Robespierre.

Interestingly, like some of the other red-haired reformers, Garibaldi saw his common enemy as the Church of Rome. According to Wikipedia he had this to say;
"The papacy, being the most harmful of all secret societies, ought to be abolished."
Perhaps unsurprisingly he was also a member of the Freemasons as well ;) Again this comes from Wikipedia;
An active Freemason, Garibaldi had little use for rituals, but thought of masonry as a network to unite progressive men as brothers both within nations and as members of a global community. He eventually was elected Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy.
He was known as "the hero of the two worlds" because of his military endeavours in both Europe and South America. Quite fittingly his followers wore red shirts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Il Rosso - The "Red Florentine"

Another redhead for the record: Rosso Fiorentino.

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo, known as Rosso Fiorentino (meaning the "red Florentine"), was a sixteenth century Italian painter. It's said he acquired his nickname due to his red hair.

Red and Blond-haired Tahitians

I also came across this description of the native Tahitian population today in a book titled Biographia Nautica. The work was published in 1785 and concerns naval history. The quote comes from the French explorer and admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville.
The women of Otaheite have features as agreeable as those of the Europeans; and are unrivalled in the symmetry and beautiful proportion of their limbs. The men who live much on the water are of a redder complexion than those who chiefly reside on the shore. Some have their hair brown, red or flaxen, in which they are exceptions to all the natives of Asia, Africa and America, who have their hair universally black.

John, King of England - A Redhead??

On a side note I also read today that King John of England had "dark red hair". However, I haven't been able to find a contemporary account for this statement yet. I'll pop him in the maybe pile for now.

"A woman that hath red hair, or freckles on her face cannot be a good nurse."

I've found another example of the belief that breast milk from red-haired women is unwholesome today. This one comes from a translation of the works of Ambroise Paré, printed 1649.
Why a woman that hath red hair, or freckles on her face cannot bee a good nurs.
[The milk] ought to bee sweet, fragrant, and pleasant in smell; for if it strike into the nostrils with a certain sharpness, as for the most part the milk of women that have red hair and little freckles on their faces doth, it prognosticates a hot and cholerick nature: if with a certain sowerness, it portendeth a cold and melancholick nature.

Voyages & Travels

I've just found a book on Google Books called The Voyages & Travels of the Ambassadors to give it its short title. Published in 1662, it was written by the German geographer and scholar Adam Olearius, then translated into English by John Davies. Concerning the peoples and geography of Russia and the East it contained a few brief references to red hair.

Firstly, when speaking of the Persians it states;
The Persians have a great fancy to Black hair, and they bear with the flaxen hair'd, but not without some trouble; but for Red hair'd people, they have a strong aversion.
And in a chapter titled into the Indies it had this to say about Indian Muslims;
They love not flaxen or fair hair'd people, and have an aversion for such as are red hair'd, out of an opinion they have, that they are Leprous.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mary Magdalene - Red Hair and Green

Another picture today. This one is by the artist Hans Baldung Grien (1484-1545). He was a German artist and studied under Albrecht Durer. According to Wikipedia he was given the nickname 'Grien' because he had a fondness for wearing green clothes. It's also been suggested that the nickname may owe itself to the German word "grienhals" meaning witch - literally translating as "green neck". This would suit the artist quite nicely as he would often paint scenes of witchcraft and sorcery.

This image depicts the Crucifixion. At the base of Christ is a green and red-clad Mary Magdalene, with reddish-blond hair. Green and red/orange were apparently the colours of Mary Magdalene. Her hair is in marked contrast to the hair of the other people in the scene who are depicted less vividly.

Red Hair in the Bible of Naples??

I came across this pic today. It's from the Bible of Naples and shows Charles II of Naples and his wife Mary of Hungary ..along with various other family members. Many of the people depicted, including Mary herself, appear to have sandy red hair.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ismail I, Shah of Iran

I also came across this image today. It shows Ismail I, Shah of Iran. He reigned from 1501 until 1524, and in this image he looks decidedly European.

He was described by a contemporary as follows;
His hair is reddish; he only wears moustachios, and uses his left hand instead of his right. He is as brave as a game cock, and stronger than any of his lords; in the archery contests, out of the ten apples that are knocked down, he knocks down seven.
7 out of 10, not bad.

Isabella I of Castile; Royal Redhead

I've mentioned before on this blog that Isabella I of Castile was a redhead. However, today I have some images as well. The first one shows Isabella and her husband Ferdinand II, and the second shows Isabella, Ferdinand and their daughter Joanna. Both appear to show Isabella with reddish/blond her.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Red Hair in Paintings Blog

I also came across this pretty cool "Red hair in Paintings" blog yesterday.


A Reading Red-Haired Magdalene ..and a Red-Haired Judas

While wandering about on-line last night I came across these two images. The first I really like a lot. It's by the Italian painter Piero de Cosimo and depicts a quite distinctively ginger Mary Magdalene. Bizarrely she's shown looking rather modern and reading a book. It was painted about the year 1500.

The second painting is rather more modern. It was painted in the 19th century by the Danish painter Carl Bloch and shows the Last Supper with a shifty-looking red-haired Judas.