Bearded women through the centuries

Recently a man dressed as a bearded woman won the Eurovision song contest. We were successfully provoked and it seemed as if we’ve never heard of something like this before.


Conchita Wurst, Eurovision

So we have decided to go back in time and tell you more about bearded women in art through the centuries. Probably one of the oldest examples is Queen Hatshepsut. The Egyptian ruler lived in 1500 BC and was a very successful leader for almost 20 years.

As a woman, in order to deter attacks on her throne she wore a false beard which was a mark of the Pharaohs.


Queen Hatshepsut

Later, in the 16th century the dwarf Helena Antonia was the favourite of Maria of Austria. Here we can see her in the carriage as a courtier.

Perhaps the most famous painting of a woman with beard is Giuseppe de Ribera’s, popularly known in Spanish as ‘’ La mujera barbuda’’. In the picture we can see 52 year old Magdalena Ventura from Abruzzi, with her husband and a newborn baby. And if during the 17th century bearded women are considered a miracle of nature, and no one would even think of making fun out of it, in Victorian times bearded women were sold to circus troupes in Europe and America. The most famous ones from that period are Juliana Pastrana, Ann Jones and Jane Barnell with a stage name Lady Olga Roderick.

Bearded lady

Bearded lady

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek


This is an example of a modern art beard made from the hair of its proud owner. Here we see how irresistible is Salma Hayek in the 2009 movie ’’Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant‘’.

Bearded women existed for centuries and will exist in the future. The difference is that we, people living in the 21st century are much more confused by this than the contemporaries of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Conchita Wurst LONDON Art TV