Mrs Kilderbee, née Mary Wayth (1723–1811), by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), oil on canvas, c.1755/65 © Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service
Mrs Kilderbee, née Mary Wayth (1723–1811), by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), oil on canvas, c.1755/65 © Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service

Exhibition: Twists and Turns, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, until 25 September 2017

Venue: Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

 

How we style our hair reflects current fashions, ideas of beauty and reveals who we are. The Ipswich portrait collection records centuries of elaborate hairstyles, from the full-curled powdered wigs sported by men in the 1700s to women’s bob-cuts of the early 1900s.

 

An important ‘hair story’ in the collection is represented by the portrait of Mrs. Kilderbee (1723-1811) by Thomas Gainsborough. This painting was thought to have been altered by Gainsborough years after its completion to update the sitter’s hair with a more fashionable style. Recent X-ray analysis has provided a better understanding of this portrait as it was originally painted. We can now see what Mrs Kilderbee looked like 250 years ago.

 

Upstairs in Christchurch Mansion, visitors will be able to find the elaborately regal hair of Anne of Denmark (1547-1619), Queen of King James I and IV, a royal statement and striking contrast to the long, wild beard of the bohemian artist Thomas Woolner (1825-92).

 

Twist and turn your way through the Mansion on our hair trail that spans 400 years of hairstyles from hair mourning jewellery, miniatures, wax models, Roman hairpins to The Dyson Supersonic hairdryer and wig making equipment from Frobishers wig makers who have been in Ipswich for over 40 years.

 

Full details of the exhibition >>

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