Portrait of Mrs. Ann Twells
Francis Alleyne (British, 1750 – 1815)
MediumOil on canvas
DimensionsCanvas : 17 1/4 x 14 in. (43.82 x 35.56 cm)
Frame : 24 x 21 in. (60.96 x 53.34 cm)
Credit LineGift of Dr. Stephan Winton
LabelAnn Twells (died 1785) was the wife of John Twells, rector of Caston parish in rural Norfolk, England. Although she came from a relatively modest, lower gentry family, Ann is portrayed here with fashionable hair and clothing more typical of the aristocracy. Her voluminous hairstyle in particular reflects a trend that was popular among upper-class women in both England and France during the late 1770s and 1780s. To achieve her cloud-like coiffure, Ann's hair would have been frizzed with hot curlers, rubbed with a pomade made of animal fat and oil, and arranged around supports made of horse hair and cloth. It would then have been dusted with a scented powder and adorned with decorative ribbons. Because creating such an elaborate hairstyle required help from one or more servants and could take several hours to complete, it was only feasible for people with a certain level of wealth.