Maria Gunning; The Woman Who Was Thought to be the Most Beautiful Woman in London, England During the 16th Century

Maria-Gunning

George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, married Maria Gunning who was said to be the most beautiful woman in London, England, so beautiful in fact that grown men claim to have fainted when in her presence. Gunning wore a heavy layer of lead and mercury based makeup which caused blood poisoning and began to eat away at her skin. It is reported that Gunning only had the light of a tea kettle in her room, because she was so devastated by the damage done to her face by the makeup she wore. Venetian Ceruse, also referred to as “Spirits of Saturn”, was the 16th century cosmetic skin whitening agent which Gunning used. Venetian Ceruse was in great demand and considered the best available cosmetic during the era. The problem with lead and mercury based cosmetological products is that this compound contains acids which eat away at the skin and cause further blemishes which then in turn require even more concealer be used, causing a vicious cyclical scenario (e.g. further blemishes lead to more makeup, and more makeup, leads to ever further blemishes). It is believed that Queen Elizabeth I also used Venetian Ceruse to achieve her iconic pale beauty standard

Dark Spots on Antique Documents 

antique-document

When brown color changes and dark spots appear on old documents and the pages of old books, these blemishes are referred to as “foxing”. The term “foxing” is based upon the term “ferrous oxide” borrowing the letter “f” in “ferrous” and the letters “ox” in “oxide”. Foxing occurs when paper becomes exposed to humidity and as part of the oxidation process when iron, copper, or other metallic substances within the pulp from which the paper was made are exposed to oxygen to form iron oxide which is rust