10 June 2011

the days of gray Nattier


Jean Marc Nattier,  Portrait of Mademoiselle Chamisot

Jean Marc Nattier, Madame Henriette de France as a Vestal Virgin

On occasion the topic comes up here.
Often- more often it comes up there.
On  my head.  
Yes, I am going gray-and wish for the day when grey was Nattier. Nattier had the knack. He could make the Ladies of Court quite the beauties-yet maintain a striking likeness. They after centuries still are beautiful, ethereal, mythological & their hair is gray.

 Jean-Marc Nattier, Comtesse de Tillieres

You see where I'm going with this-don't you?
Women are berated- No, not too strong, they do. 
Berated for not caring about themselves, not keeping themselves "up"- giving up.
Gray hair does not mean a woman doesn't care.
It means she is going gray-part of the natural aging process remember-and hey- may I add- it is not an easy trip. Women that take that road will suffer through the process.
At some point it will become obvious that more than one appointment with COLOUR has been missed.
Passers by and friends- "You're doing that on purpose?"

Jean-Marc Nattier Madame Marsollier and her Daughter

Men start balding-and contrary to what might be said-they're not all Yul Brenners- Patrick Stewarts-Vin Diesels. So-take it easy on the graying. 
Yes- men do have the "distinguishing" gray temples-no arguments.
Their gray distinguishes them.
They go gray gracefully.
They still care.

Enter Kristen McMenamy-a 45 year old model, mother that has let it go gray & wouldn't she have been glorious as a Nattier?

Editor Franca Sozzani has embraced gray & McMenamy featuring her on two recent covers and countless editorials.  The gray is natural, long,

She gives gray a much needed redemption-it can't be too soon. Is it becoming desirable even? It takes time to go gray. trust me-I'm going there. Fortunately- I've been given a secret boost to set me off to "grayer" heights from friend-she is a good one- and a wonderful COLOURIST. My grandmother was gray-a white- pretty grey- really -at an early age & my father's was the same.
Both were striking -will I be?
I don't know if I've got their roots-I hope so, I only know there's a lot- a lot of gray up there.

Jean-Marc Nattier, Madame de Maison Rouge as Diana

Nattier's sitters were actually desirous of  gray or even a touch of violet-a blue-a pink- a yellow.
Most often used were powders. The powder was made from finely ground starch, scented with orange flower, lavender, or orris root and colour was added. 

Jean Marc Nattier, Victoire de France

Wigs were an option, but many of Nattier's grays were loving their own hair and powdering it.
Wigs-they come later, but the powdering would stay light for a time. Though light, powdering became de rigueur for "dressing" til the end of the 18th century.
For the most part men were the wanton wig wearers.

Most admired of the age-most of Madame Pompadour's portraits depict her with a simple braid originating at the neck & locks at the forehead & powder to get that touch of gray.

all portraits of Madame Pompadour as Diana





Gray? Are you-going?
Think Nattier-Madame Pompadour & the natural aging process.

again with the GRAY here- graying with grace?



  1. I'm going gray. At first I let it go, as I was under 40 and found it striking -- salt and pepper -- it looked good. Now I'm on the other side of 40 and have started dying it. I know I'll let it go all gray eventually, but I feel like it's too soon now.

    But, if we let ourselves be gray and walked around with Diana-esque bows and arrows, no-one would mess with us. :)

  2. hi darling - first of all i already powder my brunette hair - with Lady Bamfords Daylsford Lavender powder because i love the scent, and secondly i adore grey hair tho of course it needs a little tidging wether that mean silver, violet or pink rinses - unless you are very blessed with those few divine shades of moonlight. Its the in between thats difficult, and while i haven't had to worry abou that yet - i have full plans in place for my grey years! x colette

  3. I love you. And I am. And I am a lover of gray. Our study at home is painted gray. And gray days are so wonderful to photograph landscapes and women and men and children; I will be posting some soon from today and yesterday taken here in Western Massachusetts, where it was rather gray and then the day was of dappled sunlight and yet the photos are still, I think, and my fellow photographer, Rebecca, thinks, rather beautiful. I am blessed. Have I shared this quote with you? I do not remember. “Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially." ~Tielhard de Chardin. I love this quote. It is, in a way, my Mantra.

  4. As a former 'colourist' (though I still dabble a bit), the one lovely thing about going gray. is that if you aren't happy with it you can un-gray yourself in the blink of an eye, well maybe two blinks, but you know what I mean. Also...there are 'ways' to color and not have ghastly roots showing themselves the next day...we have secrets, us colourists!
    Now, if you do choose to go all out and let nature take it's course...just think of masses of glorious Casa Blanca Lilies...majestically gracing your head...it might help in the transitional phase. ;)
    (btw- white lilies are Mr.24's favorites, he'd have an all white garden if I'd allow it.)
    Lovely images, as usual...
    xo J~

  5. My Mother taught me to value my grey, a well fought badge of honor and achievement of my own right of passage
    Thank you for the post

    Grey is the new blonde!

  6. I tried to post my picture.....with white hair.....the way it is growing out of my head!

    I had to defer to Facebook. I am not good at facebook....but you can see the color of my hair.

    I love, love , love going white...and I cannot even tell you how many compliments I get from strangers.

    I think I can send the picture separately.

    I will try!

    ps strangers.....keep giving people random compliments.....we need them and we survive on them

    what a wonderful thing! Out of the blue......."Wow! Your hair is beautiful!!"

    "Wow" pretty much makes the week! Especially at 63!!!


  7. tish gaye tapp,

    you made my day. (just wanted you to know.)

    xo, xo, xo


  8. I love this! Thank you, you made my day.

  9. As usual, I adore the marvelous weaving of past and present and teaching by historical example. If I had a "nice" gray, I would certainly consider letting it go natural, but from what I can tell that is unfortunately not the case. I am also so very pale and would be quite washed out with a light head of hair. But I do so love seeing women with beautiful gray hair, premature or age appropriate. And did you see Dominique Browning's article in the times about older women with long hair? It also included some thoughts on coloring.

  10. I love Penelope's comment; "Keep giving people random compliments."


  11. town house- I feel your pain, but at 51+, it is wearing to run to the beauty parlor every 4 weeks. I am ready at this juncture to see it thorough.

  12. Colette, now you know I must have Lady Bamfords Daylsford Lavender powder & not to be found in the states. where can I order? help me.

  13. VT, Linnea, Emile, friendandfaux, making someone's day is what this is all about and thank you for the "heads" up thumbs up. pgt

  14. Barbara, I am always inspired by you.

    Bruce- look forward to the grey, I like that quote and I need a quote that I can channel too.

    24, SO you know the secrets. I am a bit of a patchwork quilt right now, in the fall I am going to go for chunky streaks to level things out a bit. I love the imagery of a casa blanca lily halo-though in wearing one I would be dismissed as the kook that I am.

  15. Penelope, I got the photograph, I am going to get some images of the "real ladies" and share them soon-may I use yours. All the pictures I have seen of you reveal a beautiful head of white hair-the ultimate in color for me. As I said my grandmother and her mother had the same as yor-both I have photographs I need to get together and show in the post too. IF you have other photographs to share and would like -please do so pgt

  16. Q. I did read Dominique Browning's article-and it prompted a post in Nov from me-I added the link to the post at the end of this one
    here it is-pgt

  17. wow. you have great taste and blog! i love those painting! :)

  18. You may use any and all......and I will try to find some of my beautiful mother. Unfortunately, she died way before digital cameras!

    My assistant can maybe scan!!


    thank you !!!

  19. I started going grey at 30. It was too early then, and so I started dying it. As I get progressively grey however (and move past that awkward stage), I am going to let it go. . .

  20. Great post. Now I really understand what "Nattier Blue" is...



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