Women in the act of making themselves beautiful in front of a mirror has always been a popular on paintings. For the person hunting for clues on beauty aids and cometics, they can give some valuable clues. Even if the painting is allegorcial, the beauty ideal depicted is contemporary and one can get glimpses of details like bath tubs and mirrors. Though makeup were in use in the 16th century, the paintings omits that in favour of jewelry and an occasional comb.
|Venus at her toilet, School of Fonteinbleu, ca. 1550|
Royal mistresses were often portrayed naked or semi-naked in front of the mirror or in the bath. Here are three portraits that possibly depict Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II of France (they are all painted when she was an old woman or after her death). Here she in the process of putting on a ring and there is an open jewelry box in front of her. There is also a double-sided comb.
|Diane de Poitiers, master of the Fontainebleau School, ca. 1590|
|Woman at her toilette, School of Fonteinbleu, 1550-1570|
|A lady in her bath by François Clouet, 1571|
|Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters, School of Fontainebleau, ca. 1592|
The Queen of Navarre, however, is, if not fully clad, at least fully covered in her shift.
|Marguerite d'Angoulème by an unknown artist, ca. 1530|
No jewelry here, but a bowl that may be for washing, or possibly some kind of makeup.
|Woman at her toilette, from a fresco by Alessandro Allori, ca. 1580|
The Countess is combing herself, on the table there is an open jewelry box, but its content is spread out in front of it.
|Elizabeth Vernon, Countess of Southampton by an unknown artist, ca. 1590|