“Le Bain et le Miroir”

Cluny Museum in Paris

Le Bain et le Miroir, an amazing historical survey of body care and cosmetics, opened in Paris this summer, covering Antiquity through the Middle Ages at the Musee de Cluny and Renaissance at the Musee National de la Renaissance in the Chateau d’Ecouen (outside of Paris).

Starting with bathing and grooming in Roman times, the exhibition puts on display a wide variety of luxurious artifacts: cosmetics and perfume containers, perfume bottles, toiletry kits, mirrors, combs, pill boxes, painted vases, statues, portrait busts and paintings.

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One of the most fascinating objects on show is an 11th century hermetically sealed jar on loan from a museum in London, which still contains the remnants of a lotion and a human thumbprint.

 

Who 120px-Make-up_box_MAN_Paestum_T.4-1990would have guessed that what we take for modern inventions – breath sweeteners, deodorants (made from alum and honey), skin whiteners, moisturizers and wrinkle creams – were already used by the Romans?