Beardless Young Men? Facial Hair and the Construction of Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Self-Portraits

  • M. Victoria Alonso Cabezas
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Facial hair has traditionally been understood as a matter exclusively concerning adult men. This chapter focuses on the visual and historical construction of young masculinities through facial hair in nineteenth-century Spain, an unexplored history that reveals a fascinating variety of masculine fashion codes and socio-political meanings linked to beards and moustaches. Special attention is paid to the case of self-portraiture and artists’ portraits by young Spanish artists. It reveals that while the anxiety associated with beardlessness coexisted with the questioning of young men’s masculinity, portraits showed the artist as an adult man—meaning with developed facial hair—whereas young artists’ proud representation of fuzz constituted a challenge to this standard, linked to new cultural meanings associated with adolescence.


Masculinity Nineteenth century Spanish painting Self-portraiture 



This essay is linked to the PhD research project “Representations of Masculinity and Associationism: Artists’ Portraits in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Painting,” which I am completing at the University of Valladolid with the support of the IDINTAR Research Group (Identidad e intercambios artísticos. De la Edad Media al mundo contemporáneo), and the economic support of the Spanish Government (Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, FPU Grant ref. FPU2013/03082). I would like to thank Dr. Alun Withey and Dr. Jennifer Evans, and all the speakers at the seminar, for their contributions and advice; Margarita Alonso and Mickaël Batton, for their patient readings of this chapter from the first draft version; Raphaelle Occhietti and Lara Bourdin, whose ideas and support helped me in writing the final version.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Victoria Alonso Cabezas
    • 1
  1. 1.Art DepartmentUniversidad de ValladolidValladolidSpain

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