Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Categories: History

Many people pay attention to the fact that old portraits, most often, depict not too attractive people. Most often this is explained by the fact that today there are completely different standards of beauty. How true is this statement and why do we dislike the faces of people in paintings, including those considered masterpieces?

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

To begin with, a portrait painted by a real artist is not cheap even today. 300-500 years ago, only aristocrats could afford to order their image. Therefore, most of the portraits that have come down to our time are kings, counts and other high-born nobles.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Among these people, in fact, there were few written beauties. It was all the fault of incest, which led to the degeneration of the nobility and reflected both on health and appearance. An excellent example would be the Spanish King Charles II Enchanted from the Habsburg dynasty. The monarch was not only ugly, but also suffered from a whole bunch of mental disorders and physical ailments. And all because the Habsburgs concluded marriages with their relatives.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

But the standards of beauty in the Middle Ages and Modern times and now did not differ much. Yes, in those days, overweight women were preferred, since rounded shapes were considered a good prerequisite for motherhood. Tan was a sign of commoners working in the field, so for centuries noble pallor was in fashion. Also, the high hairline was considered aristocratic, which is why women often shaved them higher above the forehead.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

You also need to remember that in the old days painting was a kind of Photoshop. Painters often flattered their clients to pay well. For example, in the Middle Ages, very few men were not decorated with facial scars. It was not customary to depict them in ceremonial portraits. In general, because of the desire to embellish, there were often excesses that look strange today.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Brutal bearded dukes were painted with delicate hands of harpists, knights with pink baby lips, and skinny princesses with watermelon breasts and plump cheeks. All this might have pleased the court flatterers, but today it looks strange and ugly.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Well, one more important point. Painted in The Middle Ages are frankly bad. The arts reached their apogee in the ancient period of history. Look at the funerary portraits from Fayum and everything will become clear. Then, with the advent of Christianity, beauty began to be recognized as indecent and even sinful. The naturalness of painting was forgotten and in the Renaissance everything had to start over. At the same time, religious art, for example, icon painting, influenced portraiture for a very long time.

Why do people in old paintings seem ugly to us

Therefore, we can say that the level of ancient Greek masters was achieved only by the 19th century. Just the portraits of this era seem to us already quite realistic and beautiful.

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