Beauty Buzz | Facing Beauty

The definition of beauty is almost impossible to pinpoint, yet everyone seems to have an opinion about what it is. In Facing Beauty, historian Aileen Ribeiro examines what constitutes female beauty in both art and life, and how this ideal has changed over time. The tome surveys the different types of abstract and physical beauty that have been admired across centuries, and examines how cosmetics came to be such an important part of women’s lives.

Focusing on the period from about 1540 to 1940, Ribeiro begins with the Renaissance, when a renewed emphasis on the individual was reflected in the celebration of beauty through the portraits of the day. The fluid, sensual lines of the Baroque period initiated a shift toward a more “natural” look, giving way in the 18th century to a more stylized and artificial face, a mask of ideal beauty. By the late 19th century, commercial beauty preparations had become more readily available, leading to new technological developments within the beauty industry in the early 20th century.

Inspired images of some of the most beautiful women in history, both real and ideal, accompanied by illustrations from costume books, fashion plates, advertisements, caricatures, and cosmetics, bring the evolving story of beauty to life. Facing Beauty is an essential reference for anyone invested in the beauty industry.

Facing Beauty by Aileen Ribeiro is published by Yale University Press, www.yalebooks.com/art

- Shine Dharan

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