Ladies with Letters: Ups and Downs of Hair

Otto Franz ScholdererAlthough dressed as an elegant young woman, the subject in this painting entitled “Girl with a Letter” is wearing her hair loose under her charming velvet hat, something only an adolescent girl would do in the Victorian era.

Yet, look at the ring worn on the ring finger of her left hand. Is she engaged or promised? Then there are the roses in her lap, perhaps sent with the letter. Would a girl old enough for such romances still wear her hair down?

Pinning up one’s hair was a rite of passage for young women, making the mismatch between her attire and her hair puzzling. The fact that she has put on a hat also indicates that she is definitely dressed to leave the house, so it’s not a case of wearing casual attire in her own boudoir.

Wavy HairWhatever the reason she wore her hair loose, I feel a kinship with those wavy — slightly frizzy — locks. My own curly hair drove me crazy for years before I gave up the battle and admitted straight hair was not for me.

A German artist named Otto Scholderer painted the long-haired girl. Born in Frankfurt in 1834, his career took him to Kronberg, Dusseldorf, Munich, Paris and London, where he lived from 1871 until 1899, nearly half his life. Scholderer counted Edouard Manet as one of his friends, and possibly one of his artistic influences.

For your own writing needs, cards depicting Scholderer’s painting are available at the Post Whistle Shop on Zazzle.

Visit the Ladies with Letters pin board on Pinterest.

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