1893 text

The fashion of placing black patches on the face was introduced towards the close of the reign of Charles I., and the practice is ridiculed in the “Spectator.”

10 Annotations

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

Mary posted on Sun 31 Aug 2003:

Black (occasionally red) patches cut from paper, cloth or even fine leather in the shape of stars, crescent moon, even a coach and six horses (quoted by Picard) were stuck upon the face as

Terry F   Link to this

“I must here take notice, that Rosalinda, a famous Whig Partizan, has most unfortunately a very beautiful Mole on the Tory Part of her Forehead; which being very conspicuous, has occasioned many Mistakes, and given an Handle to her Enemies to misrepresent her Face, as tho’ it had Revolted from the Whig Interest. But, whatever this natural Patch may seem to intimate, it is well known that her Notions of Government are still the same. This unlucky Mole, however, has mis-led several Coxcombs; and like the hanging out of false Colours, made some of them converse with Rosalinda in what they thought the Spirit of her Party, when on a sudden she has given them an unexpected Fire, that has sunk them all at once. If Rosalinda is unfortunate in her Mole, Nigranilla is as unhappy in a Pimple, which forces her, against her Inclinations, to Patch on the Whig Side.

“I am told that many virtuous Matrons, who formerly have been taught to believe that this artificial Spotting of the Face was unlawful, are now reconciled by a Zeal for their Cause, to what they could not be prompted by a Concern for their Beauty. This way of declaring War upon one another, puts me in mind of what is reported of the Tigress, that several Spots rise in her Skin when she is angry, or as Mr. Cowley has imitated the Verses that stand as the Motto on this Paper,

———She swells with angry Pride,
And calls forth all her Spots on ev’ry Side.
[Davideis, Bk III. But Cowley’s Tiger is a Male.]

“When I was in the Theatre the Time above-mentioned, I had the Curiosity to count the Patches on both Sides, and found the Tory Patches to be about Twenty stronger than the Whig; but to make amends for this small Inequality, I the next Morning found the whole Puppet-Show filled with Faces spotted after the Whiggish Manner. Whether or no the Ladies had retreated hither in order to rally their Forces I cannot tell; but the next Night they came in so great a Body to the Opera, that they out-number’d the Enemy.

“This Account of Party Patches, will, I am afraid, appear improbable to those who live at a Distance from the fashionable World: but as it is a Distinction of a very singular Nature, and what perhaps may never meet with a Parallel, I think I should not have discharged the Office of a faithful SPECTATOR, had I not recorded it.”
http://tabula.rutgers.edu/spectator/text/june17...

JWB   Link to this

BLACK PATCHES.
VANITAS VANITATUM.
LADIES turn conjurers, and can impart
The hidden mystery of the black art,
Black artificial patches do betray;
They more affect the works of night than day.
The creature strives the Creator to disgrace,
By patching that which is a perfect face:
A little stain upon the purest dye
Is both offensive to the heart and eye.
Defile not then with spots that face of snow,
Where the wise God His workmanship doth show,
The light of nature and the light of grace
Is the complexion for a lady's face.
FLAMMA SINE FUMO, by R. Watkyns, 1662, p. 81.

Lurker   Link to this

William Hogarth used these as graphical ways of indicating syphilis; see, for example, Viscount Squanderfield in "Marriage a-la-mode".

Bill   Link to this

This was just as if a Building should be nothing but Ornament, or Cloaths nothing but Trimming; as if a Face should be covered over with black Patches, or a Gown with Spangles, which is all I shall say of it.
---Miscellanea. G. Temple, 1697.

Bill   Link to this

An illustration of Black Patches is at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/ornamental-p...

Yikes!

Bill   Link to this

An interesting sentence in a review of a book about the history of syphilis in the Guardian (5/18/2013):

"Even court fashion is part of the story, with pancake makeup and beauty spots as much a response to recurrent attacks of syphilis as survivors of smallpox."

Perhaps Black Patches were a response to face-disfiguring disease?

Bill   Link to this

Sorry Lurker above, should have noted you.

Bill   Link to this

Spoiler alert. SP himself (!) in Sept., 1664 will wear a Black Patch for cosmetic purposes. "...my mouth very scabby, my cold being going away, so that I was forced to wear a great black patch."

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