Homepage: Making Up the Renaissance

Cosmetics in Renaissance Art and Culture
Although beautiful images from Renaissance Italy – like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David or Botticelli’s Primavera – are familiar to many of us, how people in the Renaissance tried to make themselves beautiful is something that is not so well known.

The Making Up the Renaissance website asks

  • How did people in the Renaissance think about their appearance?
  • Did they worry about bad breath, pimply cheeks, wrinkly faces or their hair going grey?
  • How did the way people used make up, face treatments, and hair dye  in the Renaissance correspond to the paintings of the period? Did paintings provide ideals of beauty to be followed, a bit like actresses or super-models might do today?
  • How are Renaissance ideas about beauty linked to health?
  • Did any of these Renaissance recipes work?

This website is a place where we will put our findings – firstly from a renaissance cosmetics study day that we held in Edinburgh on 18 March 2011 – and from any future research.

We hope that this website is accessible to students, educators, and anyone interested in reconstructing an authentic renaissance “look”. We also hope it will be  useful to people doing research into fields related to renaissance medicine, books of secrets, history of renaissance art, and theatre. Do get in touch if you have any information or ideas to add, through the comments box on each page . We’d also be very keen to hear from you if you’re using some of this material in teaching or research.

This website was created and is maintained by Jill Burke (jill.burke@ed.ac.uk). All text and images (c) Jill Burke unless otherwise stated.