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Archers by Adam Buck, 1799

Posted on November 28, 2009 751 × 1015

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“Archers”, an April 1799 “pin-up” type print, engraved after a drawing by Adam Buck, and with a dedication to the Prince Regent. At the time, archery was one of the few competitive sports that adult women of the “genteel” classes could respectably engage in (others were battledore/shuttlecock — a precursor to badminton — and for a tiny social elite, old-fashioned “court tennis”).

What might not be obvious from a 21st-century point of view is that in 1799 the loosely-flowing unbound hair of the two ladies on the left would have been somewhat titillating in the eyes of the males of the day. At the time, grown-up women did not leave their hair completely free-flowing in public (but generally covered, ornamented, or confined their hair in some way, usually binding it up in back), so that unbound hair had a sexual charge because it was associated with the intimacy or privacy of the boudoir.

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