Saturday, 30 March 2019

On Leibniz’s Hairstyle

The pictures of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz show him with an abundance of hair, but the great philosopher and mathematician was actually bald. He used to wear a long, flowing wig because he wanted to present a sparkling personality. Here’s an excerpt from Matthew Stewart’s book The Courtier and the Heretic:
It was one of those ages in which the men dressed far better than the women. Men of quality sported feathered hats, long jackets, silk cravats, ornamented vests, culottes or breeches ending at the knee and tried by a ribbon, silk stockings, leather boots, liberal doses of perfume, and elaborate gauntlets truly worthy of being thrown down. In the early 1670s, just as Louis XIV began to lose his hair, wigs came into high fashion, and soon no head of any standing was complete without false curls extending to the shoulders or below. Leibniz delighted in the whole costume. He became recognizable for the exceptionally long, black wig that always warmed his prematurely bald dome. (Page 136) 
Stewart points out that Leibniz “had a protrusion on his head about the size of a quail’s egg, and it may well be that he took to the luxurious coif as a means of hiding his deformity.”

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