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These Are Our Favourite Displays of Eyeliner in Art History
Because a strong liner is not a recent invention
Art x Style 03 Apr 2020

Eyeliner has been around since 10,000 BC when people used it not only to make themselves look pretty, but also to protect their skin from the sun in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. And, thousands of years later, it still hasn’t gone out of fashion! Synonymous with drama and statement fashion, eyeliner is an everyday essential for millions of fashionistas across the world. So, don’t be surprised to know that artists have often painted their muses with a thickly lined eye. Here’s a list of some of our favourite displays of eyeliner in art history!

Nefertiti Bust, Thutmost, 1345 BC

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzv1Aw3lY_p/

Egyptian Queen Nefertiti has been known throughout the ages for her beauty. In fact, in ancient Egyptian Nefertiti means “the beautiful one has arrived.” We know that she really was beautiful because of that iconic bust crafted by Thutmost thousands of years ago. I mean, even with her left missing she’s still a stunner. And those eyes, what frames them? Some statement eyeliner, duh!

Group Of Four Nudes, Tamara De Lempicka, 1925

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8zKZjjnntG/

Tamara De Lempicka is famous for her highly stylised portraits of glamorous women, who were always impeccably dressed. She also made some nudes too, like this steamy group, all of whom are sporting a pretty daring eye-make-up look.

Dolores Del Río, Rosa Rolanda, 1931

https://www.instagram.com/p/BedKCOoA8C0/

Dolores Del Rio was one of the first Latin American actresses to make it big in Hollywood, so of course she would be painted by one of Mexico’s most celebrated artists. She was clearly beautiful too, with her almond eyes here accentuated with black liner. 

The Watussi Chief’s Wife, Irma Stern, 1946

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcrrnXmBcuh/

South African artist Irma Stern travelled across Africa capturing the faces unique to the content. One such portrait is this image of a woman from the Watussi tribe. Here Irma accentuates her beauty in saturated colours, putting major focus on her gorgeous eyes.

La Metres Sirene, Hector Hyppolite, 1946

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4nmahNBsBX/

Just look at this beauty painted by Hatian artist Hector Hyppolite. Before taking up painting, he also made shoes, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this lady is so well dressed. From her pink coat to her jewellery and hair accessories, we’re sure she turned many heads. But also take note at her glam, particularly the liner framing her eyes. Just gorgeous!

Jacqueline Roque With Flowers, Pablo Picasso, 1954

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6fdVYEA_2e/

Pablo Picasso is famous for many things, but have you noticed that his characters often have big, heavy eyes? Well, next time you visit a museum, have a look! In this work, he celebrates his only long-lasting wife, Jacqueline Roque. 

Freya’s Tears, Anne Marie Zilberman, c. 20th century

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Lt6MZpImR/

Who knew crying could be so beautiful? Inspired by Gustav Klimt’s gold paintings, Anne Marie Zilberman has made this heavenly image of a woman crying golden tears. And look, her eyeliner has barely smudged a bit! We’re kind of need to know what brand she uses…

Liz Taylor, Andy Warhol, 1964

https://www.instagram.com/p/B76t6cSHNbe/

Elizabeth Taylor once played the role of Helen Of Troy, one of the most beautiful women ever to have lived. It makes sense then, that the cinematic icon was a natural choice for Andy Warhol. Here she is in all her glory, rocking a strong eye-make-up look.

Self-Portrait, Fahrelnissa Zeid, 1980

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2BjRpIJOWX/

Turkish artist (and princess) Fahrelnissa Zeid found fame with her abstract paintings, but in later life she turned to portraiture, and there was something striking about them…they all had fantastic cartoon-like eyes! Just look at this gorgeous self-portrait, wouldn’t we all dream of being able to give ourselves a smokey eye like that?

Unveiling (Women of Allah), Shirin Neshat, 1993

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6i-7NkhkoS/

Shirin Neshat’s photographs are instantly recognisable across the world. Famous for black and white portraits layered with calligraphy, her work has appeared in some of the most important artistic institutions. But, Shirin herself is also as recognisable. Always appearing with heavy black liner, she is a beauty influencer in the making.

Text Lizzy Vartanian

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