Faux Friday: Symbolism & Contemporary Pieces

June 18, 2010

Contemporary Piece Matching
Always match a piece that you are looking at to another. Be it from books, a collection, museum or even this website, find a reference point of the piece in order to properly justify what it is. If a piece does not match with others that it is trying to emulate, then one must wonder why and see if it is a later piece or an oddity for its time.

Conflicting symbolism is a big problem. It is also hard to identify, as different cultures used symbolism at earlier periods than others. French pieces may have a higher quality and propensity for delicate symbolism and in the 18th century mix popular 19th century motifs with contemporary ones. People who commission pieces may have put in antique or unfashionable symbolism, so judging by symbolism alone can be difficult. However, when a piece does have obvious conflicting symbolism, these can be easy to spot. Usually memento-mori replicas can be spotted because of overly detailed skulls.

As can be seen in this article, there are many reasons for a piece to not conform to a particular style or period from which it came. However, this does not necessarily mean it is a deliberate forgery, and could instead be the result of a piece being handed down in one family and added to throughout the years, or the updating of pieces to reflect new fashions and sensibilities. Having said that, the collector must always keep a questioning mind when examining pieces and ensure that the story to be read in a piece is an authentic one. This means examining a piece’s construction, any marks present and any signs of a marriage of two pieces. A good knowledge of the different art styles and periods relating to sentimental and mourning jewellery also aids this process. Armed with this knowledge, the collector will be able to discern quality pieces from those which are of lesser quality.

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