The art of hairwork jewelry was a fascinating part of Georgian culture, extending into the sentimental aspects of both affection and mourning. Hair jewelry allowed individuals to hold onto a very real piece of their loved ones, and in the case of mourning, permitting their lasting memory to be present at all times. Mourning jewelry could also feature miniature painted scenes; one of the recurring themes in these portraits would be the visage of a lone figure, standing over the grave or urn containing the remains of their loved one. This particular brooch features both a painted portrait and a coiled hair: one face of the brooch bears a painted portrait, in vibrant color, of a saddened woman leaning over the grave of her beloved departed, with a bouquet of flowers set atop. The alternate face of the brooch bears coiled locks of both blond and brown hair, in an oval glass-covered frame. The brooch itself is crafted out of a rich 9k yellow gold, with a sturdy pin closure. The overall silhouette and style of this brooch is a very close match to one featured in “Jewelry in America 1600-1900” (pg 100), while the painted portrait scene has analogs in the same volume, on page 91.
In excellent condition, this brooch serves as a beautiful example of Georgian mourning jewelry.
Materials: Hair; painting materials; glass; 12K yellow gold
NOTE: Stones tested with a Presidium gem identifier; gold quality identified by acid testing.
Weight: 11.31 g
3.90 cm x 3.0 cm
Marks: [There are some faint cursive marks on the hair-bearing back of the brooch reading: "Mr N Ward"
Condition: The painted scene has intricate details and good colors, with no issues. The hair is in good condition, retaining its original brown and blond colors, and showing no signs of water damage or any other issues. The beveled glass pane is free of cracks or chips. The gold has high-quality craftspersonship and structure, with a nice luster. The early C closure works well. Overall, a lovely early piece in exceptional--only showing some age dents on the back!