Saturday Morning Beard Fact

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November 18, 2017

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One artist who documented the changing ideals of facial hair throughout the 1850s was Stephen Pearce. Those who sat for his painting The Arctic Council Planning a Search for John Franklin display only a few whiskers and neck beards, but the majority are clean shaven. The fashion for beards was starting to creep in – by means of whiskers growing longer – but at the date of this portrait (about 1851) facial hair was not yet universally accepted. In 1853, Pearce painted a portrait of William Penny, a whaler and Arctic explorer, with no sign of a beard, but with a face framed by enormous whiskers that meet beneath his chin like a chinstrap. Arctic explorers might have been expected to grow as much facial hair as possible to keep out the cold, yet Pearce’s 1859 portrait of the intrepid Sir Leopold McClintock shows a man whose whiskers spread right across his cheeks to his ears, but who chose not to grow a beard. By the time of this portrait, the beard was well and truly back in fashion – and it was all thanks to military conflict.

Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards by Lucinda Hawksley, National Portrait Gallery

 

 

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