Monday, January 27, 2020

Red Hair in Art: Helene Schjerfbeck

Helena Sofia (Helene) Schjerfbeck (1862 - 1946) was a Finnish painter. She is most widely known for her realist works and self-portraits, and less well known for her landscapes and still lifes. Throughout her long life, her work changed dramatically.

"Her work starts with a dazzlingly skilled, somewhat melancholic version of late-19th-century academic realism ends with distilled, nearly abstract images in which pure paint and cryptic description are held in perfect balance." (Roberta Smith, New York Times, November 27th 1992)

The Red-Haired Girl II


The Schoolgirl II

Under the Linden

Red Hair in Art: Jalmari Ruokokoski

Joel Jalmari Ruokokoski, known as Jali (1886 - 1936) was a Finnish Expressionist painter. Although most of his works were landscapes and still-lifes, he is probably best known for a series of portraits (including numerous self-portraits) painted mostly during the 1910s. Ruokokoski was a member of the November Group (Marraskuun ryhmä).

A Girl with a Flower

Woman Portrait

Red-Haired Parisian Girl


Monday, January 6, 2020

Chestnut Haired Native Virginians

Been slowly reading through Hakluyt's Voyages - essentially a collection of Elizabethan era explorer accounts. Anyway, I came across the following small snippet in one about the newly discovered Virginia. It described some of the native inhabitants.

"They are of colour yellow-ish, and their haire black for the most part, and yet we saw children that had very fine aburne, and chestnut coloured haire."

[titled. - The first voyage made to the coasts of America, with two barks, where in were Captaines M. Philip Amadas, and M. Arthur Barlowe, who discovered part of the Countrey now called Virginia, Anno 1584. Written by one of the said Captaines, and sent to sir Walter Ralegh knight, at whose charge and direction, the said voyage was set forth.

Hakluyt's Voyages, selected and edited with introduction by Irwin R. Blacker. Pub. 1965.]

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Red Hair in Art: Théo van Rysselberghe

Théophile "Théo" van Rysselberghe (1862 - 1926) was a Belgian neo-impressionist painter, who played a pivotal role in the European art scene at the turn of the twentieth century.

He discovered the pointillist technique when he saw Georges Seurat's La Grande Jatte at the eighth impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1886. He immediatly abandoned realism and became an adept of pointillism.

After 1903, his pointillist technique, which he had used for so many years, became more relaxed and after 1910 he abandoned it completely. His strokes had become longer and he used more often vivid colours and more intense contrasts, or softened hues.

From 1905 on, the female nude becomes prominent in his monumental paintings. His painting The vines in October (1912) is painted in lively colours of red, green and blue. One of his last works was Girl in a bath tub (1925).

At the end of his life, he also turned to portrait sculpture, such as the Head of André Gide.

His daughter Elizabeth became one of Rupert Brooke's lovers.

Bathing Women (detail)

Bust of a Woman

Sitting Nude

Four Bathers

Bathing Women

Reclining Woman with Red Hair

Exhibition poster for La Libre Esthétique

Torse de blonde

Scarlett Ribbon

Red-haired medicine in Japan

The term ang mo means "red-haired" and originates from Hokkien, a variety of Southern Min.

Although the term has historically had some derogatory connotations, it has entered common parlance as a neutral term in Singapore and Malaysia, where it refers to a white person or, when used as an adjective, Western culture in general.

The earliest origin for the term ang mo could be traced to the contact between Hokkien (Southern Min) speakers in southern Fujian with the Portuguese Empire and Dutch East India Company during the Haijin ("Sea Ban") period in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Dutch people were known in Taiwan as ang mo lang ("red-haired people") in Taiwanese Hokkien.

The Chinese characters for ang mo are the same as those in the historical Japanese term kōmō, which was used during the Edo period (1603 - 1868) as an epithet for (northwestern European) white people. It primarily referred to Dutch traders who were the only Europeans allowed to trade with Japan during the Sakoku, its 200-year period of isolation.

The 'red haired' traders of the Dutch East India Company were confined to Dejima, an artificial island abutting Nagasaki. It was to become the injection point for Western technology, science and medicine which, for over two hundred years, infused Japan with the knowledge and methods that would serve her well.

"Dutch" + "Learning" = Rangaku

The Rangaku (Dutch + learning) phenomenon was a long process, spanning from 1600 to 1868 - the Tokugawa period - when members of this clan ruled from Edo Castle (Tokyo). The term Rangaku came to refer to the western knowledge generally, not just the Dutch.

The first Dutch surgeon (he was actually German) who had significant influence on Japanese medicine was Carl Schamberger, from Leipzig (1623 - 1706). He arrived at Dejima in Nagasaki in 1649. He soon came to the attention of the Imperial commissioner Inoue Masashige, who had already embraced Western thought. Before long Schamberger acquired as patients a number of high ranking members of Japanese society . At the end of his two years in Japan, the governor of Nagasaki commanded a report on his methods which became the basis for the first Western practice of medicine in Japan known as Caspar-style-surgery, or kasuparu-ryû geka.

Another important surgeon was Hans Juriaen Hancko, from Breslau, who stayed in Dejima from 1655 to 1658. In Nagasaki he taught Mukai Gensho (1609 - 1677) about oinments, medical oils and medical herbs. Mukai's record is preserved as Komo geka hiyo (Secret Essence of Red-Haired Surgery).

Other western doctors operating in Dejima were the German Engelbert Kaempfer and the Swede Carl Peter Thunberg, a pupil of Linnaeus. Unfortunately, we couldn't identify which one among these surgeons actually had red hair.

For more information see;
Rangaku: "Red Haired" Medicine In Shogunate Japan
The History of Ophthalmology in Japan
The Netherlands East Indies and Japan