Sunday, June 21, 2015

Máire Rúa - Red Mary

I came across another feisty female redhead from history today too. Máire Rúa or "Red Mary", an Irish woman with flaming red hair who lived in Leamaneh Castle in County Clare in the 17th century. She was said to be a fearsome woman who accompanied her husband on raids against English settlers. One website states that her ghost haunts the area to this day.

Elinor Glyn and Clara Bow

I came across a book from 1905 today titled Red Hair by the novelist and scriptwriter Elinor Glyn. The book was also made into a silent film starring the actress Clara Bow. Anyway, it turns out that both women were actually red-haired in real life too.

Elinor Glyn was green-eyed and red-haired, and Clara Bow was said to have been teased at school because of her "carrot-top" hair. According to Wikipedia;
Bow's mass of tangled red hair was one of her most famous features. When fans of the new star found out she put henna in her hair, sales of the dye tripled.
 (Elinor Glyn)

(Clara Bow)

The silent film is now considered to be lost, however some has survived and can be viewed here;


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Redhead Da Vinci Works (...well, maybe)

A few redheads from the works of Leonardo da Vinci now. However, both are contentious :/ so we can't be entirely sure they are in fact the work of the great man.

This first one is titled Madonna Litta and shows a red-haired Madonna and Child (yes, another red-haired Jesus). It's attributed to Leonardo by the Hermitage Museum where it hangs.

And this one, a small chalk drawing, is titled La Bella Principessa. It was formerly considered to be the work of a 19th century German artist, however it's been very recently attributed to Leonardo by various scholars. Personally, I'm very doubtful that this is an actual El Leo, it looks very modern to my eyes. It's still a very beautiful image though. I'm not quite sure about the hair colour either - I can't decide if it's brown or ginger. I think if they can claim it as a Da Vinci we can claim it as a redhead though :p

...And Another Red-Haired Jesus :D

It used to only be Judas that was red-haired, but it seems a few paintings of Jesus are popping up of late now too. This one is by the Italian artist Agnolo di Cosimo, more commonly known as Il Bronzino. This image is dated to 1530 and is titled Pietà. The red hair in the image is quite vivid, even the skin tones look gingery, and both Jesus and Mary Magdalene (I think that's who it is) possess it.

The Rozmberks - Masters of the Rose

The Rozmberks (Rosenbergs) were a family that ruled Bohemia in the Medieval period. They were known as Masters of the Rose and their emblem was the five petal rose.

We've mentioned the rose relation to red before - Rossi, Rosy, Russia, Rusalka and so on. In this case Rosicrucian and Rosy-Cross also spring to mind.

I also have a cool picture to go with this one as well. It looks like a medieval image, but it's actually from a wall-painting by the 19th century Czech painter Mikoláš Aleš. I like this image a lot <3

It's titled Lords of Rose.

Hop-o'-My-Thumb - Illustrations

A few odd illustrations now. They're from the end of the 19th century, from a collection of fairy tales titled Mein erstes Märchenbuch. They illustrate a tale, first written in the late 17th century by the French author Charles Perrault. The tale is titled Hop-o'-My-Thumb and is about a small boy who defeats an ogre.

I find both the images slightly disturbing - especially the first one.

Henry the Younger King, and Mary of York

More news. Royal news. Two more red-haired royals to add, both from different eras of English history. First up, Henry the Younger King. He was the son of Henry II of England. Henry II was a redhead, so it's maybe unsurprising that Henry the Younger would be red-haired as well. Incidentally, he was called the "Younger" as he reigned at the same time as his father, however he died before his father did so he never became de facto king of England.

A contemporary court poem described his appearance at his coronation;
"tall but well proportioned, broad-shouldered with a long and elegant neck, pale and freckled skin, bright and wide blue eyes, and a thick mop of the reddish-gold hair"
Mary of York was the sister of Elizabeth of York and daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. We know of her hair colour via some rather strange mechanisms. Mary died in 1482, however, in 1789, workmen carrying out repairs in St. George's Chapel, Windsor accidentally broke into the vault of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. In a small adjoining vault they discovered the coffins of two unidentified children. Strangely they were put back without being examined and the tomb was sealed and inscribed with the names of Mary and her brother George, who died aged 2 (Mary died in her teens). Then in 1810-1813 the tomb was re-opened (but again no real in depth investigation took place). This time the coffin of Mary was opened though. I'll let Wikipedia tell the rest;
The coffin of Mary was opened, the beautiful girl of fifteen who had died a year before her father; a shock of her pale gold hair had insinuated itself through the chinks of the coffin; the eyes were pale blue and open, but turned to dust however soon after the admission of air.
It's slightly reminiscent of the supposed opening of Elizabeth Siddal's coffin later that century. Apparently, when her husband Dante Gabriel Rossetti opened it, the coffin was filled with her flowing coppery-red hair.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Was the Prophet Muhammad Red-Haired?

This is quite an interesting one. A lot of sites on-line state that Muhammad may have had red hair. It's also said that in later years he used henna to dye his beard red. It's been suggested that Muslims use henna to dye their beards and hair red in honour of this fact.
Muslim men may use henna as a dye for hair and most particularly their beards. This is considered sunnah, a commendable tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.
On the topic of red-haired Muslims we also have two more to add to our list; Oruç Reis and his brother, Hayreddin Barbarossa. Both had red beards and were nicknamed Barbarossa because of it. Hayreddin was an Ottoman admiral of the fleet and Oruç was a Barbary pirate.

Whilst looking into the nickname Barbarossa, quite a common one throughout history (you may remember Frederick I Barbarossa), I came across the fact that "red beard" in German is Rotbart. Rotbart sounds very similar to the name Robert. I've speculated before about the name Robert maybe meaning red-haired. This would run contrary to the accepted etymology, but it would make a bit more sense. Maybe rotbard works in relation to this.

More Napoleonic Redheads

A few more redheads from the Napoleonic Wars now. I should say that these, like the redheads in my previous posts today, come courtesy once again of Emanuela :)

The picture below shows a red-haired Sir Charles Colville. He was a British Army officer who served in the Napoleonic Wars.

We also have news that Sir Hudson Lowe, the "gaoler" of Napoleon Bonaparte was a redhead. According to the book History of Napoleon, Volume 2 by George Moir Bussey Napoleon described him as red-haired, ruddy and freckled.

Also, while on the French theme, I should mention that François Ravaillac, the murderer of Henry IV of France, was also said to be a redhead.

Redheads in the Works of Gerard van Honthorst

In my last post I showed a picture of the Duke of Buckingham and his family. It was painted by the Dutch Golden Age painter Gerard van Honthorst. He also painted other works depicting reddish-haired people. I'll share a few below.

(Granida and Daifilo)

 (The Concert)

(The Matchmaker)

(Woman with Guitar)

(Woman Playing the Guitar)

Okay, so most of them were blonde :p

The Villiers: Red-Haired Aristocrats

More red-haired aristos now. Centring around the famous Villiers family. Firstly George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. He was the favourite, and some say lover, of King James I of England. He was described as "the handsomest-bodied man in all of England; his limbs so well compacted, and his conversation so pleasing, and of so sweet a disposition."

The portrait below shows him with reddish hair and beard.

His daughter, Mary Stewart, Duchess of Richmond, was also said to be a redhead. The painting below shows Buckingham, his wife Katherine Villiers, and their children Mary and George. Mary is shown with gingery-reddish hair.

Interestingly, Katherine Villiers second husband, Randal MacDonnell, 1st Marquess of Antrim, was also a redhead. He was described as "a tall, clean-limbed, handsome man with red hair".

Mary Shelley - Redhead

A while back we mentioned the possibility that the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was a redhead, and we showed a portrait of him as a child with gingery hair (pictured below). We now have some evidence that his wife Mary Shelley, author of the novel Frankenstein, was also red-haired. The portrait below, under her husbands, shows her with reddish hair. Also a book titled Mary Shelley: Frankenstein's Creator - The First Science Fiction Writer by Joan Kane Nichols mentions her hair colour. She described her thusly;
In her early teens, pale and pretty with delicate features and almond-shaped eyes that changed from gray to hazel under a cloud of light reddish-brown hair.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Portrait of Lunia Czechowska - Amedeo Modigliani

Oh, and before I forget, a pretty cool red-haired painting by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Other Red-Haired Oddities

A few odd and intriguing things I've come across in the last week or so now. Firstly, this, from a book with a very long title which I'll just call Memoirs by Sir John Theophilus, published 1836. I think the following takes place on an island off Abu Qir Bay, on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
Some of the Cornish miners began to dig for water upon the island; and in one of their attempts, they fell on the crown of a cavern which was entered, and in which many human bones were found, including a skull covered with bright red hair. The atmosphere had not penetrated this cavern perhaps for centuries; many Greek characters were scratched on the walls, whose purport could not be deciphered[.]
Quite strange. I'm guessing they inadvertently came across an Egyptian tomb.

Next up, this from the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, published 1832. I think in this passage they're talking about the island of Taiwan, formerly called Formosa.
There is, in fact, very little known respecting the eastern, or, as it is sometimes called, the southern part of the island and its inhabitants; and the accounts both of the Chinese and Dutch writers are filled with stories so obviously fabulous, as to discredit their whole testimony. Some of these accounts bear, for instance, that one of the natives was seen, who had a tail above a foot in length, covered with red hair, and resembling that of an ox, and who declared that all the inhabitants of the southern districts were born with similar appendages[.]

Finally, I noticed the following image whilst watching an alternative history video on YouTube.

According to American Indian oral tradition, Michigan copper was mined in antiquity by "red-haired white-skinned 'marine men' who came from across the sea."

Another Famous Redhead From History

Paracelsus least if we go by the following portrait anyway.

This is a copy of a lost portrait by Quentin Matsys and shows him with red hair, ruddy cheeks and what looks like some red animal fur on an even redder hat.

Paracelsus, of course, was a famous physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer and all round general smart arse.

I should thank Barry for this one (the author of the All About Redheads article I linked to in an earlier post) He shared it on his Facebook page and I promptly stole it.

Whilst checking out Paracelsus I also came across this guy. Another red-haired physician, this one being the 17th century medical man Thomas Willis. He apparently had dark red hair and a stammer. I found this picture of him;

And also this image from a book he had published in 1663, which I can't resist sharing for its sheer bizarreness.

A Few More Italian Redheads

Firstly, we have Michele Benso, Count of Cavour. He was the father of Camillo Benso, who along with Garibaldi, helped unite Italy in the 19th Century. This picture shows him looking very gingerish - and a little bit like a young Fernando Torres.

And secondly we have Vannozza Cattanei, one of the many mistresses of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI. This picture shows her with light blond hair.

..On The Cover Of A Magazine

Whilst looking for information about Zelda Fitzgerald and Co. I came across these quaint images from the covers of a magazine titled Woman's Home Companion. This was a successful American magazine published from 1873 to 1957, and I'm guessing it was aimed at women.

I'm not sure if the first one has red-hair or is wearing a red-hair hat xD ..the others are most definitely red-haired though.


F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Poet John Keats

More poets and writers now courtesy of Emanuela. Firstly the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not only was he himself a redhead, it would seem the women in his life were as well. His wife and fellow writer Zelda Fitzgerald was a redhead, and another female acquaintance of his, the famed dancer Isadora Duncan, was also red-haired.

Isadora Duncan famously died quite a grisly death - her neck being broken after her flowing silk scarf got tangled in the wheels of an automobile she was riding in.

Isadora Duncan

Zelda Fitzgerald

Another person I'm delighted to add to the red-haired club is the poet John Keats (what is it with red hair and poets?).

The following work titled John Keats by Walter Jackson Bate contains this revealing information.
[..]there seems to have been some disagreement about the color of the eyes (the consensus is that they were probably hazel, and that the hair was a reddish brown)
In the notes it then states;
Mrs Proctor told Lord Houghton that the eyes were "large and blue" and the hair "auburn." Georgina Keats, in her copy of Houghton's Life, disagreed: "his eyes were dark brown, large, soft, and expressive, and his hair a golden red."
Another redhead to add to the mix is Hadley Richardson, first wife of the author Ernest Hemingway. According to Wikipedia she was red-haired with a "nurturing instinct".

Finally, I'll finish this post with a quote from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, where the character's protagonist Holden Caulfield remarks "People with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did, and he had very red hair."

Can We Steal Lord Nelson Too?

This is quite a cool one too if it's true. And again thanks once again to Emanuela :)

She came across this tantalising snippet that accompanied the following picture on this website;
"This was painted just after Nelson lost his arm.  It shows him thin and with a drawn face as he is dealing with the constant intense pain.  His hair had turned white with the shock of his wound (in later years it grew out to his natural auburn-grey)."

It might be a little bit sneaky to claim Nelson as a full-blown redhead based on this single intriguing line, however if he was it would be yet another national hero to add to our collection :D

Emanuela also found a few other pics that show a fairer-haired Nelson. These two showing him in his younger days.

And these miniatures showing Nelson and his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton - she was also famously red-haired.

This portrait by the artist George Romney shows Emma portrayed as a Bacchante.

Looking at Nelson also inspired me to take another look at Nelson's arch-nemesis Napoleon. It's often mentioned on various on-line sites that Napoleon was a redhead, however when I first looked into this I couldn't find any contemporary descriptions of his appearance. This time it's been much easier as someone has very usefully provided a list of first-hand descriptions.

..and quite pleasingly some of them describe him as red, or rather, reddish-haired.

A description of Napoleon by Doctor Corvisart in 1802: His very fine chestnut hair, which, until the time of the expedition to Egypt, he had worn long, cut square and covering his ears, was clipped short.
Dennis Davidov's description of Napoleon at Tilsit in 1807: The hair on his head was not black, but dark reddish-blond; his eyebrows and eyelashes were much darker than the colour of his hair, and his blue eyes, set off by the almost black lashes, gave him a most pleasing expression.
Interestingly, Napoleon's famed love interest Joséphine de Beauharnais was also chestnut-haired;
Joséphine was described as being of monstrous height, svelte, shapely, with silky, long, chestnut-brown hair, hazel eyes, and a rather sallow complexion.
Quite incredible really.

Bram Stoker Was A Redhead!

This is a another Emanuela discovery and it's quite a big one! Fitting in with the red-haired vampire theme quite nicely it turns out that Bram Stoker was a redhead. It seems very odd, but also quite fitting, that the inventor of the modern vampire myth would be a redhead.

Stoker was over six feet tall with thick red hair and has been called a "red-haired giant." Interestingly, in his most famous novel Dracula, he gives vampire hunter Van Helsing red hair.
The forehead is broad and fine, rising at first almost straight and then sloping back above two bumps or ridges wide apart, such a forehead that the reddish hair cannot possibly tumble over it, but falls naturally back and to the sides. Big, dark blue eyes are set widely apart, and are quick and tender or stern with the man's moods.

Red-Haired Vampires Continued.

I thought I'd pick up the vampire theme again. Emanuela pointed out to me the similarity between vampires and the Rusalka I mentioned in a previous post. For those unfamiliar the Rusalka were female water spirits in Eastern European lore that were generally described as red-haired or light-haired (and also, oddly, green-haired). They were usually the spirits of girls that had committed suicide or that were drowned for becoming pregnant with unwanted children. They were also at times the spirits of unbaptised children. This parallels the vampire mythology, as people who committed suicide were deemed to become vampires after death. The most famous being Judas Iscariot. When we add to this the association between vampires and red hair the parallel becomes even more apparent.

I've also been wondering about the etymology of the word vampire. The second syllable, pire, is a word we've discussed before that possibly relates to red hair. Pyro being the Greek word for fire. (Phoenicians, fiery phoenix birds and pirates have also been mentioned.) It's a bit of a long shot to suggest that the 'pire' in vampire might be related too, but it's a tempting leap to make. Made more tantalising by the fact that in earlier times vampire was often rendered vampyre in the English language. It would certainly run against the grain of more accepted etymologies though and, of course, we would be left with the first part of the word to decipher, for which I have nothing :( ..still worth bearing in mind though.

Whilst looking I found a few other red hair/eastern vampire lore bits and pieces worth mentioning too. Firstly, this quote on the Wikipedia page for the Strigoi - troubled souls of the dead that rise from the grave in Romanian mythology.
In 1887, French geographer Élisée Reclus details the burials in Romania: "if the deceased has red hair, he is very concerned that he was back in the form of dog, frog, flea or bedbug, and that it enters into houses at night to suck the blood of beautiful young girls. So it is prudent to nail the coffin heavily, or, better yet, a stake through the chest of the corpse. "
Likewise I found this on the Wikipedia page for vrykolakas - undead creatures in Greek folklore often equated with vampires;
People with red hair and gray eyes at this time in history were thought to be vampires according to accounts near the region of modern Serbia.
And finally I came across a demi-goddess in Greek mythology called Empusa who also had vampiric tendencies and, maybe by this point unsurprisingly, fiery hair.
Empusa was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Hecate and the spirit Mormo. She feasted on blood by seducing young men as they slept, before drinking their blood and eating their flesh. Empusa is pictured as wearing brazen slippers and bearing flaming hair.

Vampyren by Edvard Munch