Exhibitions: Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World

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    Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World

    Press Releases ?
    • Date unknown, approximately 1940: Put it any way you please, but the gist of the matter is that glamour secrets were all old five thousand years ago. The exhibition of books from the Wilbour Library of Egyptology, together with some objects from the Egyptian and Classical Collections*, to be shown under the title “Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World,” will reveal that faces and lips were painted, eyebrows and lashes touched up, nails reddened and hair dyed and curled by the glamour girls, not to mention the umph boys, of the third millennium before Christ. Beauty secrets were handed down from generation to generation, and the Greeks and Romans still used preparations that originated in Ancient Egypt.

      Creams and perfumes, many of them imported at great cost, were essential to the Ancient Egyptian aristocrat. In fact, almost every appliance known today, from depilatories and manicure sets to little sweetening the breath, was familiar to the ancient world. Cosmetics played a great part in the lives of the Greeks and Romans. This was especially true in the later Roman Empire, when, as economic conditions grew more and more uncertain, fashions in make-up and hair-dressing became more and more extravagant. In the time of Nero both men and women used rouge and mascara. A rather deadly face-powder--there was no Pure Food and Drugs Act--composed of white lead and chalk was employed for whitening the skin. At about the same time, a great discovery for “bleaching” the hair was imported from Gaul: It turned out to be that fundamental of beauty culture, soap, hitherto unknown in the Ancient World.

      *See last paragraph for specific items in the exhibition.

      After the orgy of luxury of the Roman Empire, its magnificently appointed baths, from which the Turkish bath developed, its costly creams and perfumes, its towering, artificially curled coiffures, built up over frames that outdid the “rats” of the early twentieth century, Europe sank gradually into the filth and comparative asceticism of the Dark Ages. Though glamour aids were never entirely abandoned, they were left pretty much to the lost girls. It took a long time for the world to come back to the idea that even a respectable woman can make the most of what she has. Today, as never before in the history of the world, glamour is democratic. In the past, beauty secrets wore for the rich and the great and the purely professional glamour girls. Today they are anybody’s. Our formulae for aids to beauty are on a fairly sound scientific basis. They take into account the fact that health is a prerequisite for glamour. But, after all, the Ancient Greeks, before they became contaminated by Oriental luxury, also know that beauty is considerably more than skin-deep.

      Among the items to be shown in the exhibition are books containing ancient formulae for beauty preparations, with translations of the formulae, and books and objects illustrating the make-up of the ancient world. An ancient Egyptian prescription for avoiding gray hair says simply apply the blood of the horn of a black bull that has been boiled in oil. Make sure the bull is black. For falling hair, the fat of the lion, the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the snake, the cat and the ibex, all worked into an ointment, should prove very effective. Objects shown will be fittings from Egyptian toilet tables of 3500 years ago including mirrors, boxes and jars for creams and rouges, mascara tubes and eye-pencils. An assortment of instruments used in beauty culture throughout antiquity, from stone and bronze razors to tweezers, hairpins and patent curlers will also be on display.

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 11-12/1939, 330-1. View Original 1 . View Original 2

    • February 2, 1940: “Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World” will be revealed in an exhibition of that title arranged from material in the Wilbour Library of Egyptology and objects from the Egyptian and Classical Collections at the Brooklyn Museum, which will open Saturday, February 3rd, and will run through Sunday, March 4th. The show has been arranged by Mrs. Elizabeth Riefstahl, AssIstant in charge of the Wilbour Library. Among the items to be shown are books containing ancient formulae for beauty preparations, with translations of the formulae, and books and objects illustrating facial make-up of the ancient world. There will be fittings from Egyptian toilet tables of 3500 years ago, including mirrors, boxes and jars for creams and rouges, mascara tubes and eye-pencils. An assortment of instruments used in beauty culture throughout antiquity, from stone and bronze razors to tweezers, hairpins and patent curlers will also be on display.

      The exhibition reveals that glamour secrets were all old five thousand years ago and that faces and lips were painted, eyebrows and lashes touched up, nails reddened and hair dyed and curled by the glamour girls, not to mention the umph boys, of the third millenium before Christ. Also that beauty secrets were handed down from generation to generation, and the Greeks and Romans still used preparations that originated in ancient Egypt.

      In material prepared by the Museum it is stated that: “Creams and perfumes, many of them imported at great cost, were an essential to the Ancient Egyptian aristocrat. In fact, almost every appliance known today, from depilatories and manicure sets to little pills for sweetening the breath, was familiar to the ancient world. Cosmetics played a great part in the lives of the Greeks and Romans. This was especially true in the later Roman Empire, when, as economic conditions grew more and more uncertain, fashions in make-up and hair dressing became more and more extravagant. In the time of Nero both men and women used rouge and mascara.

      “A rather deadly face-powder -- there was no Pure Food and Drugs Act -- composed of white lead and chalk was employed for whitening the skin. At about the same time, a great discovery for ‘bleaching’ the hair was imported from Gaul. It turned out to be that fundamental of beauty culture, soap, hitherto unknown in the ancient world.

      “After the orgy of luxury of the Roman Empire, its magnificently appointed baths, from which the Turkish bath developed, its costly creams and perfumes, its towering, artificially curled coiffures, built up over frames that outdid the ‘rats’ of’ the early twentieth century, Europe sank gradually into the filth and comparative asceticism of the Dark Ages. Though glamour aids were never entirely abandoned, they were left pretty much to the lost girls. It took a long time for the world to come back to the idea that even a respectable woman can make the most of what she has.

      “Today, as never before in the history of the world, glamour is democratic. In the past, beauty secrets were for the rich and the great and the purely professional glamour girls. Today they are anybody’s. Our formulae for aids to beauty are on a fairly sound scientific basis. They take into account the fact that health is a prerequisite for glamour. But, after all, the Ancient Greeks, before they became contaminated by Oriental luxury, also knew that beauty is considerably more than skin-deep.

      “An ancient Egyptian prescription for avoiding gray hair says simply apply the blood of the horn of a black bull that has been boiled in oil. Make sure the bull is black. For falling hair, the fat of the lion, the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the snake, the cat and the ibex, all worked into an ointment, should prove very effective.”

      One form of label will be set up in newspaper column style and made up of imaginary beauty hint items based on authentic ancient records, but reported in present-day style.

      (NOTE TO EDITOR: Attached are copies of labels and actual beauty recipe quotations from an Egyptian papyrus dated 1500 B.C.)

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 01-02/1940, 033-4. View Original 1 . View Original 2

    • February 3, 1940: SKIN FOOD
      Oils and unguents were an essential of living in the Ancient World. The hot sun of the southern countries which wore the cradle of civilization dried the skin and made lubricants indispensible. “Skin-foods” used in Egypt varied from the castor oil of the poor to the more costly vegetable oils and animal fats scented with rare perfumes of the rich. Guests at a feast were honored by being anointed and were given cones of scented grease to put on their heads. The Semites of the Near East also used oils and unguents, as Bible texts, among others, bear witness. And Greeks and Romans, while perhaps not so lavish with them, anointed themselves freely after the bath.

      WIGS
      The Ancient Egyptians, both men and women, frequently shaved their heads for coolness and comfort, and wore elaborate wigs for ceremonial occasions. In spite of the wigs, they were greatly concerned for they were greatly concerned for the health and beauty of their own cropped hair. Many formulae for hair tonics, for dandruff cures, for prevention of baldness and gray hair, have come down to us. The Romans wore wigs, but only when their own hair was scanty or ruined by the tongs. Roman ladies, however, used vast quantities of false hair to build up the towering coiffures of the Imperial Period.

      MASCARA
      Eye paints of one sort or another were used by all the ancient peoples. In the Ancient Near East they served a double purpose as adornment and medicine. Similarly, today, modern Near Eastern peoples consider them as remedy and preventive for sore eyes of all descriptions, and the “kohl” from certain regions is thought to be more effective than that from others. In the ancient world, turquoise, malachite, lapis-lazuli, as well as less costly substances such as galona (a lead ore), stibium or oven soot, were all employed. The ancient Egyptians fancied the upper lid black and the under lid rimmed with green. The Babylonians loaned towards deep purple.

      THE MALE ANIMAL was as resplendent as the female a few thousand years ago. He, too, used the curling tongs and the rougepot, the eye-paint and the perfumed creams. The oriental male had no inhibitions--he frizzed his hair, or shaved it off entirely and painted and perfumed his body, unashamed. Even though the Greek and Roman fathers denounced curls and the use of cosmetics as effeminate, they could never quite cure the Mediterranean dandy of his love for finery and scented pomades. On this wall are displayed hair styles for men, from around 3500 B.C. down to the early centuries of the Christian era.

      BEAUTY FORMULAE ALL ACTUAL QUOTATIONS FROM AN EGYPTIAN PAPYRUS DATED 1500 B.C.

      THE SKIN YOU LOVE TO TOUCH
      ....To improve the skin: honey, red natron (soda), northern salt are ground together and the body is rubbed therewith.

      Another to beautify the body: powder of alabster, powder of natron, northern salt, honey, are mixed together with this honey and the body is anointed therewith.

      THAT SCHOOL-GIRL COMPLEXION
      ....To expel wrinkles of the face: gum of frankincense, wax, fresh balanites oil, rush-nut are ground fine, put in viscous fluid and applied to the face every day. Make it and thou shalt see.

      BALDNESS IS NOT NECESSARY
      To make the hair of a bald-headed person grow: fat of lion, fat of hippopotamus, fat of crocodile, fat of cat, fat of serpent, fat of ibex, are mixed together and the head of a bald-headed person is anointed therewith.

      Another to make the hair grow: oil, turpentine, (it) is anointed therewith.

      DON’ T BE A WALLFLOWER!
      Remedy to expel stinking in the summer: frankincense, ..pignon, myrrh, are mixed together and it is rubbed therewith.

      Another to expel stinking of the body of a man or woman: …ostrich-egg, shell of tortoise, gallnut from tamarix are roasted and it is rubbed therewith. Thou shalt not be remiss therewith.

      IT’S NOT A DYE
      The beginning of remedies to expel grizzling and to treat the hair: blood of a black calf is boiled with oil and (it) is anointed therewith.

      Another: Tadpole from a pool is dried, ground and mixed with ladanum and (it) is anointed therewith.

      A SHAMPOO IS NOT ENOUGH
      To treat the hair effectively: Tooth of ass is pounded with honey and (it) anointed.

      Another to treat the hair: ink-powder, stibium, myrtle, oil, dung of sayelle, fat of hippopotamus are mixed together and it is anointed therewith.

      FOR DANDRUFF
      Remedy to expel dandruff on the head: powder of ground and roasted barley, 5 ro.,* powder of roasted ammi, 5 ro., soft grease, 5 ro are mixed together and (it) is anointed therewith: (but) if the scurf comes off his head, then his crown be turned to the ground without applying any remedy to it. Now after his crown gets done with the anointing with his remedy it shall be anointed with fish-oil on the 2nd day, anointed with fat of the hippopotamus on the 3rd day and anointed with ladanum on the 4th day; is anointed with (gruel?) of sour wheaten bread, (it) is applied to his crown every day.

      *c. “Ro” about 15 cubic centimeters of one spoonful.

      EVERY DAY IN EVERY WAY
      Come, Malachite! Come Malachite! Come thou green one, come discharge from Horus’ eye…Come expel for him…all evil things that are in these eyes. Is recited over malachite powder with honey…(and) rush-nut, is applied to the eye. Really excellent.

      FOUR OUT OF FIVE
      ….To expel growth of purulency in the gums: fruit of scycamore, beans, honey, malachite, yellow ochre, are ground, pounded and applied to the tooth.

      BE CLEAR-EYED
      For inflammation of the eyes: dry myrrh, gum ammoniac, malachite, equal parts are applied to the eyelids.

      That is used from the 3rd winter month to the 4th winter month: stibium…ink-powder, calamine, aloe, equal parts, are put into the eyes.

      Another, an ointment, used in the summer, in the winter and during the inundation: Stibium, ground with goose-fat in the morning without letting it come over the fire; therewith it is anointed in the night.

      Another: stibium, malachite, lapis-lazuli, honey, yellow ochre, equal parts, are made into a tough dough and applied to the eyelids.

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 01-02/1940, 025-7. View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3

    • Date unknown, approximately 1940: Due to its natural relationship with the Costume Show, the “Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World” exhibit, which opened February 3, is being continued for the duration of the Costume Show, through May 5.

      It will be augmented by illustrated books on beauty from the library of Madame Helena Rubinstein, which contains such volumes as “Etiquette for Ladies,” 1830; “The Arts of Beauty” by Madame Lola Montez (a best seller during the latter days of her fame); “How to be Pretty though Plain” by Mrs. Humphreys, 1899, and others.

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 03-04/1940, 067. View Original

    • March 3, 1940: “Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World”, the exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum that was to close Monday, March 4, has been extended through May 5th in order to include on March 7th two lectures “Modern Glamour” by a member of the Helena Rubinstein organization and to coincide with the large costume exhibition at the Museum called “Nothing to Wear, or 25,000 Years in Search of a Suitable Costume” which opens Friday, March 15th, to run through May 5th. The March 7th lectures will be open to the public and will be given at 11:00 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon.

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 01-02/1940, 052. View Original

    • March 6, 1940: “Glamour Secrets of the Ancient World, “ currently on exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum, will be compared modern beauty methods in a free lecture demonstration conducted by a beauty expert from Helena Rubinstein, to be held in the lecture hall of the Museum on Thursday, March 7th, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The lecture demonstration will be accompanied by a technicolor movie, “A Day of Beauty,” illustrating a complete head-to-toe beauty routine followed by modern women in the Helena Rubinstein Fifth Avenue Salon.

      The exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, in conjunction with which the lecture demonstration is being staged, includes fittings from Egyptian toilet tables of 3,500 years ago; boxes and jars for creams and rouges, mascara tubes and eye pencils. An assortment of instruments used in beauty culture throughout antiquity, from stone and bronze razors to tweezers, hairpins and patent curlers, are also on view. Helena Rubinstein’s beauty expert will have on hand a variety of modern beauty preparations analogous to those on display, with which she will illustrate her talk.

      “Glamour Secrets of’ the Ancient World” opened at the Brooklyn Museum on February 3rd and will be continued, due to its popularity, through May 5th, as part of the forthcoming exhibition, “Nothing to Wear” or “25,000 Years' Search for a Suitable Costume.”

      Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 03-04/1940, 060. View Original

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