Abstract

Despite all evidence to the contrary, many authors writing about Charlotte Corday, the famous bathtub murderess of Jean-Paul Marat, described her as blonde. One of the only pictures to show Corday as fair-haired--powdered in fact--was a crime scene done at the time of the murder by Jean-Jacques Hauer, an artist who very much admired her and portrayed her flatteringly. For his own protection Hauer needed to suggest that she was a counter-revolutionary, tainted by aristocratic vanity and fashion who had dressed up and powdered herself when she killed her victim. The same artist, however, did a close-up portrait of her as a natural brunette; her passport stated that she had chestnut hair; and nearly all of the hundreds of other "portraits" of her--several from life, most posthumous--depicted her with very dark locks. Yet, in spite of this, the determination of writers to describe her as really blonde persisted. This article examines the symbolic and metaphoric weight of blondness, and some of the various reasons that Corday was "seen" by her commentators to have this coloring.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 201-221
Launched on MUSE
2004-10-11
Open Access
No
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