Famous Beauties of the Past - Vintage Magazine 1945

I enjoyed this little article from an old magazine from Christmas 1945. There was no pictures, but I feel the point is still relevant and could be made today.

"Were the famous beauties of the past as lovely as they were made out to be? A visit to the National Portrait Gallery to see the paintings that have recently emerged from their wartime seclusion, sets one wondering. Many women portrayed there have gone down in history as beauties because they were of royal or noble blood, and it was considered the thing to admire their looks in their day. Mary Queen of Scots and Anne Boleyn would hardly pass as glamour girls in 1945. But on the other hand, some of the famous lovelies were undoubtedly beautiful. A crowd of visitors proclaimed Miss Nell Gwyn a belle. Sir Peter Lely's portrait shows the fair head covered with short, boyish curls. Nell specialised in playing boys' parts - and the impudent, good natured face is undeniably pretty. I don't mind betting that Nell would be considered a pin-up girl even in our time! Jane Middleton, another famous toast, was a blonde, and her handsome features are set off by a page-boy bob: a very daring style of coiffeur in her day.

Two other pictures especially appealed to me. Emma, Lady Hamilton, Nelson's love - and Ellen Terry, the actress. Both adorable in their own way. I left the gallery feeling that some women of the past were extremely lovely, and some were just lucky to be thought so. Well, which is best? To be lovely, or to be able to make others think you are? I leave the answer to you!"


I love the idea of Nell Gwyn being a 'belle'  and a 'pin-up girl' if she had been alive in 1945. Oddly, when I visited a gallerly as a child to copy one portrait in pastels I chose Nell.

So what is best, to be lovely, or to be able to convince people that you are? One certainly demonstrates more power or control than the other, but I'm sure most of us would rather be simply lovely.

You may be interested in an unusual cake recipe using rationed chocolate or a vintage diet article from the same magazine.