Eternal flame: the best redheads in art history

Which are the ultimate arty gingers? We've picked five fiery stars you can see right here in the capital

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A new photo show Thomas Knights: Red Hot seeks to challenge the stereotype of the weedy ginger male by presenting a sizzling line-up of buff redheaded models. Artists, however, have always appreciated gingernuts of either gender. Here, Time Out’s own auburn art critic Eddy Frankel finds 24-carrot gold in artworks on view in London.

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© The National Gallery

'The Entombment' (c1500) by Michelangelo

Let’s be honest, there probably weren’t a lot of gingers in Galilee back in Jesus’s time. Pre-sunscreen, the Mediterranean was a dangerous place for the fair skinned. But that didn’t stop everyone’s favourite Ninja Turtle from chucking a redheaded St John the Evangelist into this painting of the entombment. On display at the National Gallery.

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© The National Gallery

'La Coiffure' (c1896) by Edgar Degas

The great impressionist Edgar Degas definitely had a thing for redheads. If you see his artistic output as an accurate picture of nineteenth-century Paris, you’d think the place was overrun with ginger women, all dancing, bathing, lounging, combing and generally refusing to wear clothes. It probably wasn’t really like that. Probably. On display at the National Gallery.

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© Tate, London

'The Lady of Shalott' (1888) by John William Waterhouse

Perhaps she’s making that face because she’s realised she doesn’t have any oars. Or maybe she’s just bored with being yet another ginger model for yet another pre-Raphaelite. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais – they all got in on the act, making gingers the Kate Mosses of nineteenth-century London. On display at Tate Britain.

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© Reproduced by permission of the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House

‘Queen Elizabeth I’ (1585), attributed to Nicholas Hilliard

The steely glare, the pursed lips, the puffy shoulders and then that big loaf of ginger air. Queen Elizabeth I certainly knew how to cut an imposing figure. She’s part of an esteemed line of all-powerful redheaded British women that started with Boudicca and now ends with Nicola Roberts. On display in Elizabeth I and Her People at the National Portrait Gallery.

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© Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

'Adam and Eve' (1526) by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve, the Biblical parents of all mankind, are shown here in a painting by Cranach, one of the great masters of the German Renaissance. And what colour hair did he give them? Oh no he di’int! You know what that means right? Deep down, on a biological level, we’re ALL ginger. On display at the Courtauld Gallery.


See our gallery of flame-haired hunks

  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights
  • Thomas Knights

    From 'Red Hot', © the artist

    Thomas Knights

Thomas Knights

From 'Red Hot', © the artist


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