Gender and Sexuality - Hair
Created by Amelia Yeates
21 May 2009
This is a learning resource on Gender and Sexuality. This is the fifth of seven parts.
Hair is traditionally associated with sexual power. In the Victorian period it was also an indicator of sexual intimacy as women only wore their hair down in informal situations. Many of Rossetti’s drawings of Fanny depict her with her hair down, testimony to his relationship with her, and Fanny was the model for his Woman Combing her Hair. He had also been fascinated with Lizzie’s hair, famously red, and he described its lurid glow when her body was exhumed in order for him to retrieve some of his poems that he had had buried with her. Rossetti’s Lady Lilith, the first wife of Adam, is shown combing her hair and holding a mirror.
What seems to be the role of the woman’s hair in Rossetti’s watercolour Morning Music?
Is there a connection between hair and music?
Or women, hair and music?
How many other works by Rossetti of women with their hair down or dressing their hair can you find? How do they compare to the works above?
Gitter, Elisabeth G., ‘The Power of Women’s Hair in the Victorian Imagination’, PMLA. 99: 5 (Oct., 1984), pp. 936-954.
Discuss this collection