If ever you wanted to peek into Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s brain, you now have a window. The fashion house just launched a new Instagram account @GucciBeauty for its beauty line dedicated to Michele’s “vision of beauty.” So far, it looks nothing like a typical beauty brand account—that is, flat lays of lipsticks, regrams of makeup selfies using the brand’s products, or campaign images. Instead, it resembles more of an art page.

The 24 initial posts showcase everything from ornate oil paintings of anonymous European royals to incredibly vivid portraits of Egyptian women. Each Instagram post is accompanied by a brief description from art writers and critics from a variety of different perspectives. The captions serve to give us a little bit more context for the time period that each piece was created in, and call attention to specific beauty-related aspects of each painting.

 

From the Gucci Beauty website:

Beauty represents an ideal of each place and era, a style that the artist felt was worth preserving. Sometimes it meant high hairlines and high collars, like Elizabethan England, but it can also be native woman’s simple blouse from a 1876 portrait by painter Felipe Santiago Gutierrez, one of the first international Mexican artists.

In every portrait there is a gaze between an artist and their subject. The male gaze can be a way of consuming or controlling its target, presenting women with unreachable expectations imposed by society. “A woman must continually watch herself,” John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing. “From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually.” The self-portraits of female artists are particularly potent, showing how these women see themselves as powerful creators in their own right.
Beauty evolves over time and moves across cultures. Colonialism and globalization have meant political encounters between different standards of beauty as people adopt ideas from each other. A lithograph print from a French artist depicts Njinga Mbande, a 17th-century Angolan queen, in the visual language of the British aristocracy, though her clothes are African. Looked at one way, it’s an image of the exotic other, but it’s also an artifact of early African influence on Western style: Mbande is beautifully self-confident.
Representation keeps evolving as the full breadth of art history becomes clear. Through this collection it’s possible to observe how beauty has no one strict definition but is instead an exchange of seeing and being seen.
The Instagram captions are contributed by a group of art writers with different perspectives: critics, journalists, and artists. The group includes Tatiana Berg, Britt Julious, Larissa Pham, and Antwaun Sargent, edited by Kyle Chayka.

 

This account was the brainchild of Gucci creative director, Alessandro Michele, and will also be where Gucci shows off new beauty products and launches, fashion shows, and special collaborations. No word yet on if these works of art will be available as an Instagram filter, so keep on rocking those dog ears and check out some more of the photos below. Head over to the account to learn a little bit more about them.

 

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Title: Aurelia (Fazio’s Mistress), 1863
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Museum: Tate, London ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a British-Italian painter, poet, and translator, made this c. 1863 portrait of a woman, held by the Tate, he could only imagine, taking his subject from the 14th-century Italian poet Fazio. In a poem, Fazio described his mistress’s “clear brows” and “white easy neck.” Rossetti used his own lover, Fanny Cornforth, as a model. Their affair lasted until Rossetti’s death in 1882; she was the subject of over 60 works. Rossetti is known for his role in co-founding the nostalgic Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, influenced by medieval art. Their goal was to be “direct and serious and heartfelt.” #GucciBeauty — @kchayka ©Tate, London 2018

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Title: Woman at her toilet, c.1700
Author: François Boucher Private Collection ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ François Boucher was one of the defining artists of France’s Rococo period, known for his voluptuous, romantic paintings depicting allegories and genre scenes. In particular, his paintings often have a kind of eroticism, emphasized by his soft rendering of flesh amid idyllic landscapes. In this 18th-century portrait of a woman at her toilet, Boucher depicts a rosy-cheeked woman gazing at herself in the mirror; her hands in particular have a plump sensuality. A lover is suggested by the portrait she holds in her hand, giving her placid, thoughtful expression a romantic feeling. #GucciBeauty — @lrsphm
Photo © Agnew's, London / Bridgeman Images

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Title: Portrait of Maria de’ Medici Author: Agnolo Bronzino Museum: Uffizi Gallery, Florence ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Maria de’ Medici, depicted in this 16th-century Mannerist portrait, was a member of Italy’s famous Medici family, a powerful banking and political dynasty who also became patrons of the arts. Maria, a daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, was a lovely, highly educated young woman, who tragically died at the age of seventeen. In this portrait, painted when she was eleven and in the @uffizigalleries, her delicate youth and beauty seem to radiate out of the canvas, forever preserving this beloved young woman in time. #GucciBeauty #Uffizi— @lrsphm
Courtesy of MIBAC/Gallerie degli Uffizi

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Title: Woman from Constantinople, standing, c.1876
Author: Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) Private Collection ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme is the quintessential Orientalist painter, a European artist interested in a fantastical, stylized depiction of other cultures. After visiting Egypt in 1856 he became fascinated with the Middle East in particular and brought back local artifacts and costumes, which he used as props in his Paris studio. His work was extremely popular and much of it is now held in private collections, including this moody portrait. Gérôme wrapped his model in a translucent veil in a nod to her perceived exotic origins, drawing our attention to her languid gaze and ambiguous smile. Yet the image is theatrical, almost a fiction. #GucciBeauty — @tatianaberg
Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images

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Title: Woman At Toilette / Keshō no onna, 1918
Author: Hashiguchi Goyō Museum: LACMA, Los Angeles ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Ukiyo-e, a Japanese movement, was characterized by its depictions of beautiful women and landscapes that reflected the newly hedonistic “floating world” created by Tokyo’s economic growth in the Edo period. In this 1918 portrait, Hashiguchi Goyō, a woodblock artist, uses delicate lines to render a beautiful woman applying powder to her skin. Her fully exposed shoulder is alluring in contrast to her demure expression, and she seems to be caught in a personal, domestic moment — underscoring the tension and seduction in the delicate balance between public beauty and private adornment. The image is in the collection of @LACMA, one of the #GucciPlaces.
#GucciBeauty — @lrsphm Image courtesy of LACMA

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