Condition isn’t an issue with me when I see something that has obvious beauty and quality. If I were collecting for money, then I would be concerned (a wise collector once told me never to buy anything with chipped enamel), but I’m here to teach, educate and curate. This one has broken glass at the back, but I don’t think you’ll complain once you see the sepia front with willow and urn.

To see more on this particular style, I’ll point you in the direction of this article.

Update: There’s some good discussion going on at the Art of Mourning Facebook Group – join in if you’re not a member and bring your friends!

Urn Brooch with Damage / c.1810

Urn Brooch with Damage / c.1810

Urn Brooch with Damage / c.1810

This lovely Navette beauty found its home in 1811, but was quite probably constructed earlier. It’s a wonderful piece that makes one consider just how many interpretations of the urn/willow combination there were.

Further Reading:
> Symbolism Sunday, The Urn
> Symbolism Sunday, The Willow

Willow and Urn Pin 1811

Willow and Urn Pin 1811

19th century harp brooch

Obscura in New York (280 East 10th Street) is a brilliant store run by an equally brilliant man named Mike, if you’re in the area, please go visit and tell him that Hayden from Art of Mourning sends his regards.

I bought this piece there and I could harp on about it forever. Well, let’s do just that in this little excerpt from the Symbolism post on the Harp in jewellery:

“(the harp) is not only a visually opulent instrument, but the sound is almost ethereal. Some of the earliest depictions of the harp in art are from the 13th century B.C..E at Thebes, but in more recent times (from the 9th century C.E), Ireland adopted the harp as a national symbol in 1542 to symbolise Ireland in the Royal Standard of King James VI. Harps were associated also with David in the Old Testament and used as the symbol of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. But if seen on jewellery, or in funerary art, it can be seen as a symbolic of worship in heaven or hope. Look for the harp most commonly in Victorian charms and latter 19th century silver pieces in motif form, but only sparingly (often a lyre) in Neoclassical pieces.”

19th century harp brooch

Double Portrait Miniature Brooch

The serpent! What a wonderful motif, I think I can safely say that I consider it one of my favourite symbols and I think I’m in good company there.

We have a remarkable brooch here, it contains so much rich symbolism that you can’t look at any part of it and not be in awe of its sentimental function. Why is this so?

Double Portrait Miniature Brooch

Well, for starters, we have the serpent, a symbol which represents eternity, often to ‘love another for eternity’ (if the piece is dedicated to someone or from someone), also rebirth and immortality. In this context, the serpent is swallowing its tail clearly shows the ‘eternity’, as it forever creates a never ending circuit around the brooch. This is a very poignant thing to note when faced with the miniatures inside.

Double Portrait Miniature Brooch

Here, we have dual portraits of the same lady painted upon ivory, something which is very rare and quite unusual. We have to be careful here that they are exactly the same woman and not sisters, so without a solid dedication, we can only suggest that it is based on countenance, but it would not stretch the imagination to suggest so.

Double Portrait Miniature Brooch

What aids the context of the singular in the portrait is the hairwork itself, a single type, we can assume. For when this brooch was produced (c.1850-60), it uses the painting on ivory method that was relegated for those who could afford it and steers the piece into the realm of artistic interpretation, rather than the literal photograph that was becoming more and more ubiquitous for its time and used in jewels for sentimental reasons. Note also the romantic depiction of the subject; this isn’t a portrait that is directly there to capture the bare fact of the subject, but it is a portrait which elevates the subject into the mythic projections of love. This can be seen in the gentle pose of her, the open, supple mouth ruddy cheeks and large, auburn eyes – all of these things are idealistic. The subject is depicted on a dark background and from the costume in the profile, we can see another link to the anachronistic and idealised romantic fashion; this certainly isn’t a portrait meant for literal consumption in a formal society.

Double Portrait Miniature Brooch

What are we left with, apart from many questions? The same thing we’re always left with when looking at these jewels; love.

Time and time again, there’s one constant about the Neoclassical era and that is; all the sentiments are beautiful. No matter how run down I feel from looking at these jewels all the time, all I need to do is sit back and reflect upon something beautiful like this and all the love comes rushing back again. So, consider this Hayden’s therapy session and let’s get intimate with this wonderful piece from the collection of Sarah Nehama.

Jonathan Dere 1796 Brooch

The dedication is to a man named Jonathan Dere, an English lawyer who took part in New Jersey, assisting in the development of American independence. From the documents gathered about Dere, the desirability of this piece and also its sentiment speak quite a lot louder to us viewing it today. Upon the face of it, the sepia is painted on ivory depicting a young man in mourning nexy to the urn on plinth. Upon the stone is;

‘TO ME HE WILL NEVER DIE’
Born 1738
Died 1796

And immediately we are taken into the heart of the piece. This was an immediate piece with a very personal statement and it brings the subject to light. By the use of the word ‘me’, it defies the convention of placing the subject in the third person, such as ‘Though Lost to Sight, To Memory Dear’ and does away with the formality of a dedication like ‘Sacred Will I Keep Thy Dear Remains’. It makes a statement about the wearer in that the memory of the deceased will never die and it is in ‘him’. This is a sentiment that resonates today and is still typical in modern vernacular. That makes it also speak a little louder to us today, we can feel the proximity of the grief.

Note how the mourner is wearing a black sash, which during the 18th century was worn by the ‘less important’, however in this case, it relates to the age of the mourner, not being any less important, but quite young.

There is then the quality of the painting itself. Note the delicate stance of the mourner, with his leg bent, leaning against the urn and the sad expression. One of the most important things to note here is that the mourner is actually interacting with the urn itself. In the same way that the depiction of a dog waiting at the tomb shows fidelity, this mourner shows the proximity of his relationship with the deceased by touching the remains themselves and an eternal fidelity by waiting at the urn. And to this mourner, ‘he will never die’ and by looking at this scene, I have no doubt of that.

Jonathan Dere 1796 Brooch

Another thing to note, which I will follow up in future articles, is that this a male piece. It doesn’t follow the Neoclassical standard of having the idealised woman as the centre of the grief, but it does put the character into the piece and then it makes it even more personal that it was for a man himself. Male pieces are very uncommon, which isn’t necessarily a reaction to the convention of the idealised woman, but simply the nature of the jewels themselves and how they were worn and carried.

For more on the unfortunate Mr Dere, please look over these documents below.

1.Jonathan Dere 17962.

Jonathan Dere 1796

3.Jonathan Dere 1796

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama

Soul Brooch, 1806

April 26, 2011

Here is an incredibly beautiful little brooch and not only exemplifies the style of the turn of the 19th century, but also is a wonderfully personal sentiment of mourning.

Firstly, let’s look at the shape. This piece is square, but also has a contour to its surface, sloping downwards from east to west. It’s remarkable that the bevelled glass follows this line so well, as this curve is quite difficult to fit. Obviously, the setting helps this, but it’s still quite intricate in its simplicity.

Take into account that this piece was made in 1805, a time when only five years previous, the Neoclassical style was in full bloom and a scene with the mourning woman next to a tomb, surrounded by the weeping widow was commonplace. This piece shows that very strong transition to present the hair as the memento. The use of enamel and its reliance as the artistic theme is quite bold, with this clean, straight edge and geometric shape becoming one of the true styles of the early 19th century (especially during the Regency). Use of stones was becoming more popular and simple shapes, such as ovals and rectangles, look for more on this in a future post.

But what are the two most wonderful things about it? Firstly, the impossibly personal sentiment on the front. ‘His hair / wove here / his memory / in my soul’ – what a beautiful statement of love? And a very genuine one, as this was not a common memorial dedication, it’s not generic, it’s speaking directly from the person who commissioned it. To go with this, the white enamel is the second most wonderful thing about it. The poor lad who died was aged only 19 (in an era of high mortality, this isn’t terribly young), but the white enamel speaks of his being unmarried/purity/virginity.

White enamel on a piece usually commands a greater premium, these pieces are harder to come by and the messages are often more unique to the wearer. It’s not a general rule, but if you have white enamel, you can often suggest that the piece is of a touch higher quality than the mass produced black enamel pieces of its contemporary time. Certainly not a rule to abide by as gospel, I’ve seen many reasonable, but not great, white enamelled pieces, but for a person who is more in tune with the sentiment over the construction, they do speak volumes.

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama

Country: USA

Year: 1806

Often when discovering a new piece, one can be swayed with the eternal question of price vs quality. Let’s take a look at this wonderful brooch from 1846 and discuss this very point.

1846 Mourning Brooch with Broken Glass

This particular brooch has quite a lot of history behind it. To its credit, it has a wonderful inscription, dedicated to ‘Nathan Slofson – Born June 24 1838 – Obt Sep 7 1846. Aged 8 year and 3 mo’, a dedication which denotes a full name, age and date. For many pieces dating from the 19th century, the pieces were re-appropriated and many of the dedications have been lost over time – often removed by jewellers looking to resell or used again within the family. This is nothing new, it happens today, as a piece with a blank slate is obviously much more marketable towards someone who may want to use it for their own personal grief or sentimentality.

As well as this, we have that the glass is still in place and the hair is underneath. Moving back to the idea of re-appropriation, often the glass has been replaced by a jewel. This can be for second/third stage mourning if created this way in its original format, however, much of the time it harkens back to a seller trying to remove any taint of previous sentimental attachment or selling the piece again under the pretext of it not being used for mourning.

Mourning has a stigma of being morbid and a fascination that has become disconnected with the honest love and sentimentality of the time. More so, this was a fashion, related to presentation of family sentiment in accordance to social necessity. High mortality rates combined with the harder 19th century return to the ideals of the Christian family unit (in Western culture) created the establishment of the matriarchal centre of the family. Hence, a woman in mourning becomes the focus of the family in mourning.

Reflecting on this piece, one can note the floral Gothic Revival articulation to shape and design that became popular from the 1830s. Here, the sharp edges have taken over from the rounded shapes of Neoclassicism and the heavy floral gold-work (called ‘pie-crust’ by some) shows the dense acanthus design prevalent with Gothic Revival mourning rings and peripheral jewellery. The hairwork is naive, but perhaps affected by the broken glass in the centre.

1846 Mourning Brooch with Broken Glass

Leading us back to this piece is the question – ‘should I buy it due to damage?’ I’ve covered off in my Faux Friday articles that many pieces have been doctored throughout history by sellers to improve value. This is a hard thing to reconcile, as (much for the reasons why I educate on the topic of mourning jewellery), the collector should know what they’re buying. Often, however, a piece is sold as perfect and clean when it is not. It doesn’t matter the level of the seller, high or low end, these pieces exist and sometimes aren’t completely known to the seller, but quite often they are.

So it comes down to personal preference. Could you alter a piece in a modern environment that doesn’t have the same techniques to restore a piece to its original state? To alter this piece, the glass would be imperfect. Glass replacements to find a convex dome that would emulate this 1-1 is quite difficult today and to do it properly would cost more than the value of the piece and probably more than it would ever be worth. So, is it an emotional attachment that would make a person do this?

You can find pieces like it with replaced glass (sometimes plastic) that have bevelled edges, which is a telltale sign. Personally, I find it important to understand what you’re buying and if the price is right, then do it.

But to alter a piece that is as honest as this, with the dedications in place, the passage of time that got it to this point is written upon its face. This piece tells a tale of living through the centuries in its perfect form and this is how it should be appreciated.

Dedication: Nathan Slofson – Born June 24 1838 – Obt Sep 7 1846. Aged 8 year and 3 mo
Courtesy: Amanda Legare

Judging from the title of this little piece, you’d think the article was based upon hairstyles of the Neoclassical era, but I’d like to focus on the jewellery aspect of it for a bit.

mourning ringOf the many different methods of constructing Neoclassical scenes in jewellery, forming a scene from hair itself is one of the most original and unique. Often, hair was ground into sepia paint and used in the typical scenes of the time, in other occasions, the hair was woven, glued and created part of an urn or created a high-relief or three-dimensional level to a scene, be it in a tree, plinth or tomb. But more interestingly is this particular style.

Ribbon Slide Crystal Mourning Memento MoriSilk is embroidered with hair, creating the depiction of the mourning or sentimental scene itself. What is wonderful about this style is how it has survived and how intricate it was. Indeed, this style had its roots in the 17th century, but not to the delicate extent of this. Embroidering fabric with hairwork, usually in initials or just integrating a hair weave into the material itself with gold initial cypher on top or an enamel/metal mourning/sentimental symbol.

Embroidered Hair Mourning Ring 1780

Even more interesting is that the construction itself could be performed by professionals and practiced in the home as well, making a wonderful variation between the higher-end quality pieces and those that veer into folk art. Usually the higher-end of the scale would emulate the classic mourning/sentimental sentiments and symbols with sheafs, flowers, urns, ribbons and the like, but more unusual examples are often the singular pieces, which didn’t need to hit a commercial prerogative. These, such as the one pictured, can be as strange as to emulate moss agate with hairwork. As stated by Ward, Cherry et al, it was ‘time-consuming work (which) was designed to occupy over-abundant leisure’.

So, there is a rather wonderful little curiosity from a magnificent era. I’ll be focusing on some of the more specialised techniques in jewellery as time goes on, so keep your eyes open for more!

Courtesy: British Museum

Time and time again, there’s one constant about the Neoclassical era and that is; all the sentiments are beautiful. No matter how run down I feel from looking at these jewels all the time, all I need to do is sit back and reflect upon something beautiful like this and all the love comes rushing back again. So, consider this Hayden’s therapy session and let’s get intimate with this wonderful piece from the collection of Sarah Nehama.

Jonathan Dere 1796 Brooch

The dedication is to a man named Jonathan Dere, an English lawyer who took part in New Jersey, assisting in the development of American independence. From the documents gathered about Dere, the desirability of this piece and also its sentiment speak quite a lot louder to us viewing it today. Upon the face of it, the sepia is painted on ivory depicting a young man in mourning nexy to the urn on plinth. Upon the stone is;

‘TO ME HE WILL NEVER DIE’
Born 1738
Died 1796

And immediately we are taken into the heart of the piece. This was an immediate piece with a very personal statement and it brings the subject to light. By the use of the word ‘me’, it defies the convention of placing the subject in the third person, such as ‘Though Lost to Sight, To Memory Dear’ and does away with the formality of a dedication like ‘Sacred Will I Keep Thy Dear Remains’. It makes a statement about the wearer in that the memory of the deceased will never die and it is in ‘him’. This is a sentiment that resonates today and is still typical in modern vernacular. That makes it also speak a little louder to us today, we can feel the proximity of the grief.

Note how the mourner is wearing a black sash, which during the 18th century was worn by the ‘less important’, however in this case, it relates to the age of the mourner, not being any less important, but quite young.

There is then the quality of the painting itself. Note the delicate stance of the mourner, with his leg bent, leaning against the urn and the sad expression. One of the most important things to note here is that the mourner is actually interacting with the urn itself. In the same way that the depiction of a dog waiting at the tomb shows fidelity, this mourner shows the proximity of his relationship with the deceased by touching the remains themselves and an eternal fidelity by waiting at the urn. And to this mourner, ‘he will never die’ and by looking at this scene, I have no doubt of that.

Jonathan Dere 1796 Brooch

Another thing to note, which I will follow up in future articles, is that this a male piece. It doesn’t follow the Neoclassical standard of having the idealised woman as the centre of the grief, but it does put the character into the piece and then it makes it even more personal that it was for a man himself. Male pieces are very uncommon, which isn’t necessarily a reaction to the convention of the idealised woman, but simply the nature of the jewels themselves and how they were worn and carried.

For more on the unfortunate Mr Dere, please look over these documents below.

1.Jonathan Dere 17962.

Jonathan Dere 1796

3.Jonathan Dere 1796

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama


Testing for 14K yellow gold and at the elegant size of 2” x 1”. This brooch comes from the Philadelphia area; Walnut street is still in existence, but 266 does not exist now.

As a piece constructed in 1850, this shows modesty and elegance in an oval shape reminiscent of the 1820s. For a time when brooches were becoming bigger and surroundings more elaborate, this keeps the oval shape and charm of its materials (hair/gold). As seen last week, the 1850s showed a period of design in jewellery that was in flux, coming to grips with the evolving fashion and adoption of new styles. There seems to be a level of fluidity to the period of 1820-1850, obviously with huge social changes reflecting back upon fashion of the time. Through two monarchs, increased social mobility, Empire building and increased transit, communication and lifestyle was advancing faster than ever before.

In this brooch, the gold finely encapsulates the dual-weave hairwork, creating a luscious balance of colour and entwined sentiment. The detail of the inscription is very fine as well, pushing this into the realm of fine jewellery and a powerful personal statement.

Courtesy: Sarah Nehama
Dedication: “My Sister and My Darling April 21 & 22 nd 1850 266 Walnut Street.”
In Memory Of Mid Victorian Brooch

'In Memory Of' in Black Enamel, The New Direction

Before (and somewhat during) the heavy influence of the heavy Neo-Rococo designs that worked so well with memorial and sentimental symbolism in jewellery, the heavy, clean lines of the Empire Style (seen previously during the Neoclassical movement of the first quarter 19th century), had an influence on jewellery of the mid 19th century era, straightening out the embellished Neo-Gothic designs and producing something quite bold and powerful, such as this brooch.

With a simple insert of banded sardonyx and the clean lines giving way to break the brooch into quarters of ‘IN’, ‘MEM’, ‘ORY’, ‘OF’ trailing around its oval shape, the piece is on the verge of a movement that would see brooch styles grow very large. This piece, however is around 3.5cm in width, not very large and shows how the simplicity of mourning jewellery in stark symbolism was overtaking the gold embellishments of Neo-Gothic period and the opulent artistic allusions and scenarios of the Neoclassical era.

With such high mortality rates and a royal family that was imposing classic Christian family values upon the household, mourning was losing the surrounding pomp that had been popular fifty years earlier. Symbolism was sharp and bold (such as snakes, forget-me-nots and many other symbols still popular in funerary art today), with the construction of the pieces being large, bold and simple with a typical mourning statement on top or wrapped around a piece.

Don’t forget to head over and join the Art of Mourning Facebook Group if you want to have a chat with other collectors or see some more lovely items! Tomorrow, you might get to see something equally as lovely and then there’s Sunday… I wonder what symbolism will be on display then?

Further Brooches

A Sentimental Brooch For a Mother and Daughter, c.1860

Join Me with a Look at a 19th Century Sentimental Cameo Brooch of Artemis Featuring Hairwork

Spotlight On: Soul Brooch

Spotlight On: Snake Brooch

Spotlight On: 1788 Sarah Honlett Brooch

Dedication: To D.H.R from her affectionate mother.

Often a piece comes along that you feel in your heart is special and was kept untouched and loved for a reason. This brooch is one of those, not only for its pristine condition, but for the glorious sentiment between a mother and daughter.

This piece specifically states that it is a love token, an affectionate gift from the lady’s mother and we can take a lot in just from looking at it.

 

1860 Sentimental Brooch

Dedication and More Hair

 

It is a quite heavy piece and solid, with feathered tableworked hair with three pearls on milk glass on the front, with a simple twist of hair under glass on the reverse. We could assume that the mother’s hair is on top and the daughter’s underneath, but this is merely speculation without any absolute fact. One of the dangers of analysing a piece is becoming emotionally attached to it and making grand statements, when there is no basis for it. In the gold work, we can see subtle heart and clover motifs worked into the Rococo lines, yet nothing overpowers the large hair memento inside.

By the 1860s, brooches worn at the neck were becoming larger in fashion, so this piece is quite obvious and proud for its time. There’s no enamel of which to speak, so the gold design itself does the talking for it. Post 1861, the focus on sentimental jewels had grown far larger than it was even previously (if you’ve been reading this site, they had been quite popular with a large industry for the previous 250 years), however, post Albert’s death and Victoria’s adoption of perpetual mourning, combined with the introduction of the allowance of cheaper alloys in jewellery from 1854, the vales of sentiment focused upon the woman in the Victorian household was not only mandatory, but it was financially possible to buy the paraphernalia.

On the face of it, this Pinchbeck brooch shows a significant amount of damage and its physical price would not be very great (I don’t really like talking about prices as they are transient and mostly in the eye of the beholder). We have the oxidisation to the top of the piece, a layer of high gloss enamel that shows signs of very rudimentary repair and water damage to the hair inside the memento. The piece is light and hollow, with the damage to the exterior frame showing being knocked and bent, with even one of the flourishes missing from the bottom of the frame itself and enamelled over.

On the face of it, a collector would look the other way, but underneath it all, one must wonder why they are collectors. Is it to buy every/any piece that comes along in order to expand a collection and does that provide gratification?

For me, I find infinite delight in this for many reasons, its age and damage tell a story – the person who wore it did so with love. One can only assume that from the damage, other than a century of careless or apathetic behaviour from future generations, the piece was worn for the sentiment it was designed for. It was worn, rather than kept hidden from site and displayed the love token with intent.

It is a wonderful little time capsule for that reason, but also I just love the artistic and design of it.

The Neo-Rococo Victorian design that frames the piece is bold and marries together the earlier tight floral style that surrounds the hair itself, showing a transition of the old to the new. It really is a transitional piece, the large size (around 6cm across), shows the growth of brooches from the 1840s to the 1860s, as their prominence around the neck became larger for the latter stages of mourning and rings became smaller. So, it tells a story, this piece. It tells a story of its history and any further than that is merely subjective, but the fact is there.

So, did I buy it to take space? No, I bought it because it’s a link in a chain and one that will continue on for long after I’m gone.

And you, dear reader, do you collect for sentimental reasons or for quality reasons? Post in the comments or discuss over in the Facebook group!

As mentioned last week, I spent an all-too-brief weekend in Sydney, where I got to meet a lot of lovely people who all opened their ears to my unstoppable rambling about old jewellery. I’d like to thank the wonderful people at the Victoria & Albert Antiques store at the Strand Arcade for their hospitality and the lovely conversation! If you’re ever in the city, do pop in and have a look, they have some magnificent things. I’d also like to thank all the lovely people who wrote in and gave me some superb advice on where to go treasure hunting in New South Wales, your help was not only brilliant, but invaluable.

But enough of the preamble, you’re wondering what did a lucky lad like myself find? Was there any form of treasure that I couldn’t pass by? Well, I’m an impulsive chap by nature, so I can’t restrain myself sometimes and couldn’t resist the allure of the following brooch and ring:

Garnet Ring, c.1830

(excuse the impromptu phone-photography)

1830s Embellished 3rd Stage Mourning Ring

Similar Style

The ring is 9ct and the beautiful garnet (which is a rather pale/ruby colour, I’ll see if I can get better pictures soon) is a later replacement for the original hair memento. Surrounding the ring and following over the bezel is the magnificent 1830s floral embellishments, which show the evolution of the style from the previous cleaner lines of the Regency period.

Note the similarities to the following piece and see how the design became ubiquitous. Another lovely feature of the ring that is now sitting proudly in the collection is that it shows very little wear at all, for a ring that has design built into the band, there’s very little wear.

Early 19th century brooch with hair and pearlsAs for this brooch, I can’t say enough superlatives to describe how wonderful it is. It has the rectangular shape that was quite common from around 1800-1820 and would date to the earlier side of this. Surrounding, the pearls are in remarkable condition, but it’s also inside where this brooch is the business. Here, we have a border in gold, with triangular patterns etched in (which when magnified look almost Masonic, but one would assume it’s simply the design) and then the dual over-crossed hairwork underneath. What makes the hair so lovely is that the contrast of the brown/blonde hair is so striking, that you can’t ignore it. Furthermore, what is rather unconventional is that rather than using slim glass, there is a heavy, domed piece of crystal covering the hair and magnifying it as well. With so much at play here, the piece is actually physically weighty to hold.

Is that all, you’re wondering? Well, I did see a lovely blue enamel mid-19th century ring with pearls in the daisy configuration and hair compartment underneath that was in stunning condition, but my wallet can only take so much. Yet, there may be a couple more pieces that I’ve seen which may take the flight down to Melbourne in the next few days, but that remains to be seen.

Right now, I’m very happy with the new additions to the family and to everyone who I met and who helped me along the way, my undying thanks!

The snake motif was a popular symbol of eternal love, as it showed the snake ingesting its own tail, therefore representing eternity.

Much thought has been given to Queen Victoria for popularising the snakes (as given to her by Prince Alfred), however, this motif pre-dated her usage by over fifty years.

This snake with its foiled garnets and green paste eyes is a supreme representation of the serpent motif and defies the common construction of the time. For its construction (c.1820), This piece should show a more rectangular shape, however, as like eye portrait jewels, it retains its own shape to conform to its style.

This makes the snake rounder and more organic in its shape. The 1904 date is discredited very strongly, and there is no constructional, artistic or popular credence given to it being contemporary for this time. Obviously, the date is added later to the piece.

Faith, hope and charity are of the most typical symbols during the 19th century; their nondescript sentimentality and adherence to religious motifs make them popular sentimental tokens throughout jewellery and art.

This piece shows just how they evolved during the 18th century and how well they could be combined with other motifs. Specifically, the symbol of the anchor (hope) is held by the mourning female (or the idealised depiction of woman) in neoclassical dress pointing towards the heavens.

The willow frames the piece delicately. Interestingly, faith is combined within the anchor of the cross, but also mixed with neoclassical symbolism, which is a conflict of ideology, as neoclassicism uses pre-Christ thought. However, the time and the place where this was created with of course ecclesiastical in nature, regardless of popular thought or art. Adversely, it may be seen to be an anchor without the cross.

The age of the subject shouldn’t be discredited, either. Sarah was 14 upon her death, so there is the element of innocence within the symbolism. Rather than the heavy grieving of the female subject, there’s the taciturn calmness and almost a pleasant expression of peace of the subject’s face as she points towards the heavens. One could suggest that the age of the subject was too mature to show the widow/mother figure in sad grieving and too young to show relationship connections other than immediate family (neither husband nor child), hence there is a serene gentleness in the method of presented grief.

Christian symbolism is rife within neoclassical art, whether later contemporary thought applied a set of ideals towards this or it was the intention of the original artist is ambiguous and hard to discern. What is to be remembered is that romanticism and neoclassicism as art forms were fashion; social convention and thought in traditional religious activity was unchanged and evolved. For more on the different nature of symbolism, check the Symbolism section of Art of Mourning.

Country: England
Year: 15th March 1788
Dedication: Sarah Honlett Age 14

As the 19th Century approached, styles altered greatly, with the size of the previous pieces growing smaller and the importance of symbolism being held in the materials used and not in paintings on ivory or vellum.

Stages of mourning, the move away from romanticism and the techniques of jewellery construction made pieces more accessible to the greater public with more mobility in price and with different levels of grandeur.

This piece, shows the signs of the transition of the neoclassical period in the late 18th to early 19th centuries. Stemming from around 1820, this piece shows how the oval shape in neoclassical jewellery had evolved into a smaller, rounder design. Compare this with the larger navette shapes (which would often hold large mementoes, such as miniatures), the oval shrank down to accommodate simple hairwork mementoes.

Much jewellery of this time began to reduce in size and followed form, circular or geometric patterns and clean enamel lines were quite prevalent during the Regency period. Style constantly evolved, rather than halt altogether.

An important thing to note on this piece is that it shows evidence of a marriage between items. The prongs with the paste doesn’t blend perfectly with the interior brooch, hence it may have been re-appropriated as a latter-stage mourning piece. The hair and the original brooch appear to be largely untouched, rather than the hair memento replaced (which is much more common).

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