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A hairy situation at the Wallace Collection

29 October 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The Wallace Collection has always been one of this columnist’s favourite places in London. Your roving correspondent applauds many of the recent moves to open up the collection and make its strengths much more widely known. A programme of highly focused temporary exhibitions with more than a flash of scholarly flair is therefore hugely welcome – and the current show of Frans Hals’s male portraits (until 30 January 2022) is no exception. However, it is with the slightest pang of sorrow that we report the Wallace Collection’s announcement earlier this week on Twitter:

One of the stated aims of the Wallace Collection’s partnership with Movember is to ‘highlight ideas of masculinity and its pressures throughout the ages’. We couldn’t be more supportive. However, Rakewell is not entirely on board with the encouragement of moustaches in the museum or other cultural institutions – unless sported by a Marx Brother, of course. So your correspondent has an alternative suggestion – one that, we hope, can still be adopted. The Laughing Cavalier and his confrères are undeniably natty dressers with rather more interesting sartorial options, at least to this mind, than most 21st–century men in the West. Why not also open up this scheme to the wearers of ruffs, slashed sleeves and lace cuffs…perhaps a low heel? And then we can all, Rakewell included, be the tableaux vivants we want to see in the world.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.