Max Beerbohm [Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm] (1872–1956)
A Defence of Cosmetics. First published in “The Yellow Book” (1894). A revised version was later published as “The Pervasion of Rouge.”
Beerbohm contended that the use of make-up by women, and some men, was becoming the norm in the 1890s, and that the mask was becoming more important than the face. His essay claimed that "most women are not as young as they are painted... Cosmetics are not going to be a mere prosaic remedy for age or plainness, but all ladies and girls will come to love them...the season of the unsophisticated is gone by, and the young girl's final extinction beneath the rising tides of cosmetics will leave no gap in life and will rob art of nothing... Artifice, sweetest exile, is come into her kingdom."…
The essay, an ironic defence of Decadence, created a sensation when it appeared in 1894. Delighted with the essay, William Rothenstein wrote to Beerbohm, "...all my friends chuckled over your dear cosmetics as they read & reread them. Oscar, solitary exception, was moved to a torrent of tears, so strong was his emotion".
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