Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mastery of Design: The Child & Child Serpent Brooch, c. 1900

Child & Child, c. 1900
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Since Queen Victoria’s serpentine engagement ring revived the ancient theme of snakes in jewelry, the idea of incorporating the little slithery beasties into works of precious metals and gems remained quite popular well into the dawn of the Twentieth Century. In fact, there’s been a recent snaky resurgence of late.

Made around 1900, we can see from this brooch that the snake was alive and well as Victoria was about to close her reign. The brooch was made by the firm of Child and Child (marked with two Cs with a sunflower). Brothers Walter Child (1840-1930) and Harold Child (1848-1915) founded their jewelry concern in Seville Street, London, in 1880 and quickly impressed London Society with their artistic designs. Child and Child was popular with such celebrated luminaries as Queen Victoria herself, King Edward VII, King George V, my pal Queen Mary, the late Empress Frederick of Prussia, and the Tsarina of Russia.

Just looking at this handsome brooch of gold, silver, amethyst, enamel and a pearl tells us why the brothers’ works were so popular with the elite of London. It’s truly a masterpiece, and, best of all, it doesn’t bite. 

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