Saturday 7 January 2012

Elizabethan Vizard Mask

For those who haven’t already seen it an Elizabethan Vizard mask was found in 2010 and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme on their database where there are full details. These full face masks were kept in place by a button held in the mouth, which survives with this original. They were used through the 16th, 17th and into the 18th century, more often later for masque and masquerade wear. They could be worn by men as well as women, as in the 1655 quote from Thomas Stanley “Some wild young men, lay in wait for him, attired like furies, with vizards and torches.”  Pepys (12th June 1663) commented that his wife at the theatre “put on her vizard and so kept it on all the play.”
The mid 18th century portrait in pastels of Louise Geneviève Le Blond, Madame Royer shows her holding a very similar mask.
A half mask could also be worn, held on as shown clearly in this c.1640 print by Hollar.

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