Abstract

The representation of hair has always been of great importance for sculpture. This is especially true of the portrait bust, not least because this was a genre in which the head was represented in three dimensions and viewed from close quarters. This essay examines the representation of hair on male portrait busts, which became popular in England around 1750. Though less elaborate than the hair on later eighteenth-century busts of women, the hair on male busts, ranging from wigs to no hair at all, played a significant role in mediating how the sculptural portrait was to be viewed. While represented hair might at times relate to current fashions, the short hair frequently used on classicizing busts of men had an independent sculptural existence. Seemingly part of the represented body, such hair was also a constructed convention. In its very ambiguity, hair of this sort alerted the spectator to the nature of the bust as a representation, at once a likeness of great immediacy and a highly artificial genre. This in its turn involved an elaborate play with those sculptural techniques used to represent hair, or its absence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 63-77
Launched on MUSE
2004-10-11
Open Access
No
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