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Posts tagged history

120,215 notes

mermaidskey:

hemipelagicdredger:

mermaidskey:

mermaidskey:

oxidoreductase:

Lavoisier is having none of your shit.

Heeeey so fun fact: the woman in that painting is Lavoisier’s wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who not only acted as Lavoisier’s lab assistant but also translated English and Latin texts into French so he could read them. But she didn’t just translate, she pointed out errors in the chemistry in some of the texts. Her observations of these errors convinced Lavoisier to study combustion, which led to his discovery of oxygen. She was also critical to the publication of Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry in 1789. She kept strict records of every experiment they conducted together and drew detailed diagrams of all their equipment. She also threw amazing parties and invited all the brightest minds in science so her husband could pick their brains. After Lavoisier was guillotined she secured all of his notebooks and equipment for posterity.
In short: NOBODY KICKS MADAME LAVOISIER OUT OF THE LAB.

Also, a side note: My historian husband-to-be pointed some things out to me about this painting. Notice that Madame Lavoisier is looking at the viewer, and all the light is on her, while Lavoisier himself is physically smaller than her, in shadow, and looking up to her in reverence. This isn’t a candid photograph- all of these choices are deliberate. The painting isn’t of Lavoisier- Madame Lavoisier is meant to be the central subject. 
I can just imagine Lavoisier telling all his colleagues that his wife is really the one with all the clever ideas, and them patting him on the back and telling him he’s sweet for saying so.

more like


I LOVE IT

mermaidskey:

hemipelagicdredger:

mermaidskey:

mermaidskey:

oxidoreductase:

Lavoisier is having none of your shit.

Heeeey so fun fact: the woman in that painting is Lavoisier’s wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who not only acted as Lavoisier’s lab assistant but also translated English and Latin texts into French so he could read them. But she didn’t just translate, she pointed out errors in the chemistry in some of the texts. Her observations of these errors convinced Lavoisier to study combustion, which led to his discovery of oxygen. She was also critical to the publication of Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry in 1789. She kept strict records of every experiment they conducted together and drew detailed diagrams of all their equipment. She also threw amazing parties and invited all the brightest minds in science so her husband could pick their brains. After Lavoisier was guillotined she secured all of his notebooks and equipment for posterity.

In short: NOBODY KICKS MADAME LAVOISIER OUT OF THE LAB.

Also, a side note: My historian husband-to-be pointed some things out to me about this painting. Notice that Madame Lavoisier is looking at the viewer, and all the light is on her, while Lavoisier himself is physically smaller than her, in shadow, and looking up to her in reverence. This isn’t a candid photograph- all of these choices are deliberate. The painting isn’t of Lavoisier- Madame Lavoisier is meant to be the central subject. 

I can just imagine Lavoisier telling all his colleagues that his wife is really the one with all the clever ideas, and them patting him on the back and telling him he’s sweet for saying so.

more like

image

I LOVE IT

(via themarysue)

Filed under history I've seen this painting it's fucking huge the internet doesn't give good scale for how fucking big portraits are

1,464 notes

fastcodesign:

Exposed: A History of Lingerie charts how designers responded to feminist demands for better underwear over 300 years of ill-fitting, freeform, and racy lingerie. 
“Burn up the corsets!” clothing reform activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps wrote in 1873. “Make a bonfire of the cruel steel that has lorded it over the contents of the abdomen and thorax for so many years and heave a sigh of relief: for your ‘emancipation,’ I assure you, has from this moment begun.”

We have feminism to thank for making our underwear more comfortable, a truth that’s clearly reflected in Exposed: A History of Lingerie, now on view at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The more than 70 pieces on view, from the 18th century to today—from girdles to the “no-bra” bras of the ‘60s—track the social and sexual mores of different eras through the lingerie that women wore. The show also reveals how designers (thank goodness) responded in very tactile ways to feminist demands for less oppressive underwear.
Read More>

fastcodesign:

Exposed: A History of Lingerie charts how designers responded to feminist demands for better underwear over 300 years of ill-fitting, freeform, and racy lingerie. 

“Burn up the corsets!” clothing reform activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps wrote in 1873. “Make a bonfire of the cruel steel that has lorded it over the contents of the abdomen and thorax for so many years and heave a sigh of relief: for your ‘emancipation,’ I assure you, has from this moment begun.”

image

We have feminism to thank for making our underwear more comfortable, a truth that’s clearly reflected in Exposed: A History of Lingerie, now on view at the Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The more than 70 pieces on view, from the 18th century to today—from girdles to the “no-bra” bras of the ‘60s—track the social and sexual mores of different eras through the lingerie that women wore. The show also reveals how designers (thank goodness) responded in very tactile ways to feminist demands for less oppressive underwear.

Read More>

(via bookoisseur)

Filed under feminism history

6,762 notes

Fairy tales are NOT all straight white heroes and women sans agency! I swear!

seananmcguire:

I re-blogged a picture of a little girl, dressed as Tiana, hugging the face actress who plays Tiana at one of the Disney Parks, and noted that everyone should have their princess.  And a few people have now contacted me basically going “no, only straight white people can have princesses if you stick with the classics.”

Um.

No.

I am a folklorist, and it’s time for some Fun With Folklore.

First off, very few Princesses/fairy tale heroines who are going to become Princesses because that’s what you do are actually defined by specific physical attributes.  You have Snow White, who yes, requires the “skin as white as snow” etc, but that’s to make her an alien beauty and justify the actions of her stepmother.  She belongs to the Aarne-Thompson tale type 709, which is commonly referred to as “Snow White,” but which contains a hell of a lot more, including “Bella Venezia”, “Myrsina”, “Nourie Hadig” and “Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree.”  All those links will take you to Wikipedia.  Click them.  Note that NOT ONE of those girls is defined by her appearance, beyond “incredibly beautiful.”  “Nourie Hadig” is Armenian in origin; you can bet that girl was not white as snow.  (Note that I do not actually care for the “Nourie Hadig” 709 variant, due to using a Roma girl as the main adversary, but that’s another story.)  Any story you want to tell is going to have variants where the heroines are never described!  You know why?

BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE TELLING THESE STORIES UNDERSTOOD THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN TO SEE THEMSELVES IN THE MIRROR OF THE TALE.

There are fairy tales about people with disabilities, ranging from the physical (missing limbs, missing eyes, missing tongues) to the emotional (girls who cannot smile, boys who cannot feel fear).  There are fairy tales that end in same-sex marriage.  There’s even an excellent fairy tale about gender identity, “The Princess Who Became A Prince,” in which our hero has always felt he was a boy, but tried to be a dutiful daughter, until a dragon stole a neighbor princess and he had to ride to rescue the girl in order to save the kingdom.  One misaimed curse later, and wham, our new-minted prince is finally outwardly as he had been all along on the inside.

THIS IS JUST AS OLD AND TRUE AND SCHOLASTIC AS CINDERELLA AND THE OTHERS.

The “big fairy tales” of today are the ones that someone seized on as marketable.  We have the power, as drivers of media, to say that we want more diversity.  We want Princesses of every race, creed, and religion, and we have the folklore and fairy tales to make them real.  We want our transgender Princess (although wow would the marketing be problematic).  Saying “the classics” are 100% about straight white people reduces the past to a place where only straight whiteness existed, and where no other children ever needed stories.  And that’s not what the past was.

Once upon a time has never stopped being right now.

(via tassledown)

Filed under fairy tales history diversity

21,746 notes

azurelunatic:

virtualclutter:


Hair washing and care in the 19th century


Hair washing is something that almost every historical writer, romance or not, gets wrong. How many times have you read a story in which a heroine sinks gratefully into a sudsy tub of water and scrubs her hair–or, even worse, piles it up on her head to wash it? Or have you watched the BBC’s Manor House and other “historical reenactment” series, in which modern people invariably destroy their hair by washing using historical recipes?

Historical women kept their hair clean, but that doesn’t mean their hair was often directly washed. Those who had incredibly difficult to manage hair might employ a hairdresser to help them wash, cut, and singe (yes, singe!) their hair as often as once a month, but for most women, hair-washing was, at most, a seasonal activity.
“Why?” you might ask. “Wasn’t their hair lank, smelly, and nasty?”
And the writers who embrace ignorance as a badge of honor will say, “Well, that just goes to show that people used to be gross and dirty, and that’s why I never bother with that historical accuracy stuff!”
And then I have to restrain myself from hitting them…
The reason that hair was rarely washed has to do with the nature of soaps versus modern shampoos. Soaps are made from a lye base and are alkaline. Hair and shampoo are acidic. Washing hair in soap makes it very dry, brittle, and tangly. Men’s hair was shirt enough and cut often enough that using soap didn’t harm it too much and the natural oils from the scalp could re-moisturize it fairly easily after even the harshest treatment, but in an age when the average woman’s hair was down to her waist, soap could literally destroy a woman’s head of hair in fairly short order.
Instead, indirect methods of hair-cleaning were used. Women washed their hair brushes daily, and the proverbial “100 strokes” were used to spread conditioning oils from roots to tips and to remove older or excess oil and dirt. This was more time-consuming than modern washing, and this is one of the reasons that “good hair” was a class marker. The fact that only women of the upper classes could afford all the various rats, rolls, and other fake additions to bulk out their real hair was another. (An average Victorian woman of the upper middle or upper class had more apparent “hair” in her hairstyle than women I know whose unbound hair falls well below their knees.) Women rarely wore their hair lose unless it was in the process of being put up or taken down–or unless they were having a picture specifically taken of it! At night, most women braided their hair for bed. Now that my hair is well below my waist, I understand why!
The first modern shampoo was introduced in the late 1920s. Shampoos clean hair quickly and also remove modern styling products, like hairspray and gel, but the frequent hair-washing that has become common leaves longer hair brittle even with the best modern formulations. (From the 1940s to the 1960s, many if not most middle-class women had their hair washed only once a week, at their hairdresser’s, where it was restyled for the next week. The professional hairdresser stepped into the void that the maid left when domestic service became rare. Washing one’s hair daily or every other day is a very recent development.) That’s where conditioners came into play. Many people have wondered how on earth women could have nice hair by modern standards before conditioners, but conditioners are made necessary by shampoos. Well-maintained hair of the 19th century didn’t need conditioners because the oils weren’t regularly stripped from it.
Additionally, the oils made hair much more manageable than most people’s is today, which made it possible for women to obtain elaborate hairstyles using combs and pins–without modern clips or sprays–to keep their hair in place. This is why hair dressers still like to work with “day-old” hair when making elaborate hairstyles.
There were hair products like oils for women to add shine and powders meant to help brush dirt out of hair, but they weren’t in very wide use at the time. Hair “tonics”–mean to be put on the hair or taken orally to make hair shinier, thicker, or stronger–were ineffective but were readily available and widely marketed.
If you have a heroine go through something particularly nasty–such as a fall into a pond or the like–then she should wash her hair, by all means. This would be done in a tub prepared for the purpose–not in the bath–and would involve dissolving soap shavings into a water and combine them with whatever other products were desired. Then a maid would wash the woman’s hair as she leaned either forward or backward to thoroughly wet and wash her hair. Rinsing would be another stage. The hair would NEVER be piled on the head. If you have greater than waist-length hair and have ever tried to wash it in a modern-sized bathtub, you understand why no one attempted to wash her hair in a hip bath or an old, short claw foot tub! It would be almost impossible.
A quick rundown of other hair facts:
Hydrogen peroxide was used to bleach hair from 1867. Before that, trying to bleach it with soda ash and sunlight was the most a girl could do. Henna was extremely popular from the 1870s through the 1890s, especially for covering gray hair, to such an extent that gray hair became almost unseen in certain circles in England in this time. Red hair was considered ugly up until the 1860s, when the public embracing of the feminine images as presented by the aesthetic movement (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) gained ground, culminating in a positive rage for red hair in the 1870s to 1880s. Some truly scary metallic salt compounds were used to color hair with henna formulations by the late 19th century, often with unfortunate results.
Hair curling was popular in the 19th century and could either by achieved with rag rolls or hot tongs. Loose “sausage” rolls were the result of rag rolling. Hot tongs were used for making the “frizzled” bangs of the 1970s to 1880s–and “frizzled” they certainly were. The damage caused by the poor control of heating a curler over a gas jet or candle flame was substantial, and most women suffered burnt hair at one time or another. For this reason, a number of women chose to eschew the popular style and preserve their hair from such dangers! Permanents were first in use in the 1930s.  
(From: http://www.lydiajoyce.com/blog/?p=1022)




Anne Shirley probably used indigo on her red red hair. Indigo will turn brown hair a lovely blue-black. Blue and orange? A most appalling green.

azurelunatic:

virtualclutter:

Hair washing is something that almost every historical writer, romance or not, gets wrong. How many times have you read a story in which a heroine sinks gratefully into a sudsy tub of water and scrubs her hair–or, even worse, piles it up on her head to wash it? Or have you watched the BBC’s Manor House and other “historical reenactment” series, in which modern people invariably destroy their hair by washing using historical recipes?

Historical women kept their hair clean, but that doesn’t mean their hair was often directly washed. Those who had incredibly difficult to manage hair might employ a hairdresser to help them wash, cut, and singe (yes, singe!) their hair as often as once a month, but for most women, hair-washing was, at most, a seasonal activity.

“Why?” you might ask. “Wasn’t their hair lank, smelly, and nasty?”

And the writers who embrace ignorance as a badge of honor will say, “Well, that just goes to show that people used to be gross and dirty, and that’s why I never bother with that historical accuracy stuff!”

And then I have to restrain myself from hitting them…

The reason that hair was rarely washed has to do with the nature of soaps versus modern shampoos. Soaps are made from a lye base and are alkaline. Hair and shampoo are acidic. Washing hair in soap makes it very dry, brittle, and tangly. Men’s hair was shirt enough and cut often enough that using soap didn’t harm it too much and the natural oils from the scalp could re-moisturize it fairly easily after even the harshest treatment, but in an age when the average woman’s hair was down to her waist, soap could literally destroy a woman’s head of hair in fairly short order.

Instead, indirect methods of hair-cleaning were used. Women washed their hair brushes daily, and the proverbial “100 strokes” were used to spread conditioning oils from roots to tips and to remove older or excess oil and dirt. This was more time-consuming than modern washing, and this is one of the reasons that “good hair” was a class marker. The fact that only women of the upper classes could afford all the various rats, rolls, and other fake additions to bulk out their real hair was another. (An average Victorian woman of the upper middle or upper class had more apparent “hair” in her hairstyle than women I know whose unbound hair falls well below their knees.) Women rarely wore their hair lose unless it was in the process of being put up or taken down–or unless they were having a picture specifically taken of it! At night, most women braided their hair for bed. Now that my hair is well below my waist, I understand why!

The first modern shampoo was introduced in the late 1920s. Shampoos clean hair quickly and also remove modern styling products, like hairspray and gel, but the frequent hair-washing that has become common leaves longer hair brittle even with the best modern formulations. (From the 1940s to the 1960s, many if not most middle-class women had their hair washed only once a week, at their hairdresser’s, where it was restyled for the next week. The professional hairdresser stepped into the void that the maid left when domestic service became rare. Washing one’s hair daily or every other day is a very recent development.) That’s where conditioners came into play. Many people have wondered how on earth women could have nice hair by modern standards before conditioners, but conditioners are made necessary by shampoos. Well-maintained hair of the 19th century didn’t need conditioners because the oils weren’t regularly stripped from it.

Additionally, the oils made hair much more manageable than most people’s is today, which made it possible for women to obtain elaborate hairstyles using combs and pins–without modern clips or sprays–to keep their hair in place. This is why hair dressers still like to work with “day-old” hair when making elaborate hairstyles.

There were hair products like oils for women to add shine and powders meant to help brush dirt out of hair, but they weren’t in very wide use at the time. Hair “tonics”–mean to be put on the hair or taken orally to make hair shinier, thicker, or stronger–were ineffective but were readily available and widely marketed.

If you have a heroine go through something particularly nasty–such as a fall into a pond or the like–then she should wash her hair, by all means. This would be done in a tub prepared for the purpose–not in the bath–and would involve dissolving soap shavings into a water and combine them with whatever other products were desired. Then a maid would wash the woman’s hair as she leaned either forward or backward to thoroughly wet and wash her hair. Rinsing would be another stage. The hair would NEVER be piled on the head. If you have greater than waist-length hair and have ever tried to wash it in a modern-sized bathtub, you understand why no one attempted to wash her hair in a hip bath or an old, short claw foot tub! It would be almost impossible.

A quick rundown of other hair facts:

Hydrogen peroxide was used to bleach hair from 1867. Before that, trying to bleach it with soda ash and sunlight was the most a girl could do. Henna was extremely popular from the 1870s through the 1890s, especially for covering gray hair, to such an extent that gray hair became almost unseen in certain circles in England in this time. Red hair was considered ugly up until the 1860s, when the public embracing of the feminine images as presented by the aesthetic movement (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) gained ground, culminating in a positive rage for red hair in the 1870s to 1880s. Some truly scary metallic salt compounds were used to color hair with henna formulations by the late 19th century, often with unfortunate results.

Hair curling was popular in the 19th century and could either by achieved with rag rolls or hot tongs. Loose “sausage” rolls were the result of rag rolling. Hot tongs were used for making the “frizzled” bangs of the 1970s to 1880s–and “frizzled” they certainly were. The damage caused by the poor control of heating a curler over a gas jet or candle flame was substantial, and most women suffered burnt hair at one time or another. For this reason, a number of women chose to eschew the popular style and preserve their hair from such dangers! Permanents were first in use in the 1930s.  

(From: http://www.lydiajoyce.com/blog/?p=1022)

Anne Shirley probably used indigo on her red red hair. Indigo will turn brown hair a lovely blue-black. Blue and orange? A most appalling green.

(via queenofthegeese)

Filed under history

24 notes

Every time I see a Michelangelo painting where he attempts to portray women, my initial reaction is always “Sweet Raptor Jesus had the man ever SEEN a woman or was he basing this off a vague description given to him by a blind man?!”

I mean, historians think it’s highly probable he never saw a naked woman but how you extrapolate Schwarzenegger arms are under yards of Venetian lace is beyond me.

Every time I see a Michelangelo painting where he attempts to portray women, my initial reaction is always “Sweet Raptor Jesus had the man ever SEEN a woman or was he basing this off a vague description given to him by a blind man?!”

I mean, historians think it’s highly probable he never saw a naked woman but how you extrapolate Schwarzenegger arms are under yards of Venetian lace is beyond me.

Filed under art history

903 notes

mediadiversified:

It’s Time to Talk About Black Tudors

by  Rowena Mondiwa
‘A criminally neglected part of British history is the true scope of the African diaspora in Britain that reaches as far back as Renaissance Europe. A new book by Onyeka Nubia seeks to rectify the problem, examining the lives of the thousands of blacks that lived in the UK in Tudor times. In Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Onyeka Nubia shares research conducted in uncovering early evidence of Black existence in the United Kingdom, and proves that black presence was evident a lot earlier than is usually assumed. Nubia’s research focuses on the Tudor era (1485- 1603), specifically looking at the four English cities of London, Plymouth, Bristol and Barnstable.
This is not the first book published about African presence in England. Black Lives in the English Archives by Imtiaz Habib (2008) and Gustav Ungerer’s The Mediterranean Apprenticeship of British Slavery (2010) are two other books that look at similar subject matter and help substantiate the information uncovered in this research project. Additionally, just this year, academic Miranda Kaufman has published essays on the same research.

mediadiversified:

It’s Time to Talk About Black Tudors

by  Rowena Mondiwa

A criminally neglected part of British history is the true scope of the African diaspora in Britain that reaches as far back as Renaissance Europe. A new book by Onyeka Nubia seeks to rectify the problem, examining the lives of the thousands of blacks that lived in the UK in Tudor times. In Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Onyeka Nubia shares research conducted in uncovering early evidence of Black existence in the United Kingdom, and proves that black presence was evident a lot earlier than is usually assumed. Nubia’s research focuses on the Tudor era (1485- 1603), specifically looking at the four English cities of London, Plymouth, Bristol and Barnstable.

This is not the first book published about African presence in England. Black Lives in the English Archives by Imtiaz Habib (2008) and Gustav Ungerer’s The Mediterranean Apprenticeship of British Slavery (2010) are two other books that look at similar subject matter and help substantiate the information uncovered in this research project. Additionally, just this year, academic Miranda Kaufman has published essays on the same research.

(via medievalpoc)

Filed under history tudors blackamoores

119 notes

downlo:

This is Ching Shih, a woman who went from being a prostitute to the captain of the largest and most powerful pirate fleet in Chinese history. She was granted amnesty and retired from piracy with all of the wealth she’d looted.
Stuff You Missed in History Class has a pretty good podcast about what’s known of her life. I’m rather annoyed they decided to call the show, “Don’t Cross the Dragon Lady”. Even if it was supposedly Ching Shih’s nickname—really?
Even though she was basically a floating gangster, I’d prefer seeing a swashbuckling movie about her (or Asian pirates in general) being produced than yet another Pirates of the Caribbean flick.

Reblog courtesy of LaughterKey sending me this link! <3

downlo:

This is Ching Shih, a woman who went from being a prostitute to the captain of the largest and most powerful pirate fleet in Chinese history. She was granted amnesty and retired from piracy with all of the wealth she’d looted.

Stuff You Missed in History Class has a pretty good podcast about what’s known of her life. I’m rather annoyed they decided to call the show, “Don’t Cross the Dragon Lady”. Even if it was supposedly Ching Shih’s nickname—really?

Even though she was basically a floating gangster, I’d prefer seeing a swashbuckling movie about her (or Asian pirates in general) being produced than yet another Pirates of the Caribbean flick.

Reblog courtesy of LaughterKey sending me this link! <3

Filed under pirates female pirates lady pirates history

11,386 notes

relict-hominid asked: re: chromophobia... of course these chromophobes idolized a Greek/Roman past full of cool white marble.... which we've since discovered was actually a gaudily painted riot of color!

prokopetz:

medievalpoc:

magpiemindset:

medievalpoc:

medievalpoc:

ocassis:

medievalpoc:

hifish:

I always love seeing this fact pop up. Yeah, what we thought was the ancients just being really cool and aesthetic was actually the gaudy colors fading away over time. It’s like when people think that old houses were built better than they are now, when it’s really just that the shitty houses all fell down already.

Ummmm but the problem is not so much that they weren’t being “cool and aesthetic”; it’s that this entire western concept of aesthetics is built on a mistake.

The ask was in response to this article, which makes it 200 times funnier.

fittingly, I was just reading this:

The Parthenon marbles Elgin took to Britain do consist of marble, but a darkly pitted Greek marble rather than the smooth, snowy white variety more common in Italy.  Here lay an aesthetic problem: whiteness versus color.  The alarming history of European marble “cleaning” includes a chapter on this statuary describing a drive to make ancient Greek art white that nearly destroyed the art itself. In the 1930s workers in the British Museum were directed to remove the dark patina with metal tools on the mistaken assumption that their proper color should be white.  Such a “cleaning” seriously damaged the Parthenon marbles, prompting an inquiry by the museum’s standing committee that halted the work.

—Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People, page 63

It’s particularly obnoxious given the claims by so many British people that the marbles had to be removed to Britain in order to protect them.

The bold: People should really know about that, too.

And yes, it is connected with this article about Chromophobia and colonialism

which is also connected to the Reformation.

Especially if you think about (at least in an American context) the way that Catholicism has been, to a large degree, racialized. And how the Catholic Mass and other traditions came to be associated with licentiousness and was condemned for its use of decoration (aside form legitimate gripes with corruption).

see also: Calvinist Iconoclasm:

medievalpoc:

OMG!!! I FORGET PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THIS!

Yes, all those aloof, “pure” white statues from Ancient Greece?

They actually looked like this:

Vinzenz Brinkmann, much to the apparent chagrin of Westerners everywhere, used ultraviolet light to reveal the original paint schemes of these statues that the millennia had washed away.

And to underscore the Chromophobia?

Check out this graphic that i09 made for their leading image for this story:

You can check out a video here to learn more about the methods used to discover the original paint schemes of these statues and reliefs.

In the summer of 1566, spurred on by the sermons of Calvinist preachers, zealous mobs descended on churches in the Netherlands, intent on ridding them entirely of their imagery. Many churches were literally white-washed.

All of these things are connected.

reblogging for someone who recently asked about this.

Someone also asked about over-cleaning or modifications made to various Greek and roman works in European Possession.

British Museum: Over-Cleaning of the Elgin Marbles

British Museum: Public Response

Like, they were literally dipping them in acid to make them “pure and white” as they imagined they were “originally”.

As for the Met, you can read here just how far art curators are willing to go to modify artworks to fit their ideas on how they SHOULD look.

Medieval churches in England also suffered from a similar problem. Originally they were covered in murals, floor to ceiling, in the gaudiest colours they could manage. Part of it was probably to engage the illiterate population with a giant devotional picture book. 

Here’s a snippet from one I studied in the Deanery of Durham Cathedral:

image

Then along came the Reformation with its accusations of idolatry, its desire for direct book learning for everyone and its general drive to make everything boring  remove the distractions of the material world.

In some churches, they chipped the images off the walls, but in many they just white-washed over them. 

Which would be fine for us, since layers of white-wash can be removed to reveal the original paintings, as happened in the Deanery and as happens around the UK by accident on a regular basis, where the old white-wash is still in place.

But alas, the Victorians happened. They saw the bare stones of the thoroughly defaced churches and thought they had more grandeur than the white-washed or ,worse, the still painted churches, and so set about ‘restoring’ the churches of England.

Granted, compared to the art of the renaissance and the classical greek world, the English medieval murals do look like crude kiddy scribbles, offensive to the Victorian (and modern) sense of taste and not at all what they wanted in their monumental architecture. But they were the medieval decoration, like it or not.

'Victorian Restoration' is a well-known oxymoron in old architectural nerd circles. The walls of many churches were stripped back to the stone and in some cases, beyond. The entire outer surface of Durham Cathedral was chipped off (I forget the exact depth, some small number of centimetres), to make it 'clean'. 

But yeah, prior to the Reformation, the British Isles loved colours. There were the sumptuary laws, in which the nobility tried to keep the wearing of awesome colours to themselves when rich commoners started to get in on the deal. There were the bardic rules in Ireland, where the higher rank a bard you were, the more colours you got to wear. And then there was the amazing rivalry between blue dye merchants and red dye merchants (you know why devils were painted as red? Because the blue dye merchants were slandering the red dye merchants.)

But alas, the Victorians Happened=best paragraph intro since everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked

It’s kind of mind-boggling how much of the mainstream notion of Western history prior to 1850 or so is the product of Victorian revisionism. There are entire eras whose image in the public consciousness is essentially wholly fictitious.

Filed under history art history revisionism