Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: The Pugin Headband, 1848

A.W.N. Pugin, 1848
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We have previously looked at a brooch which comprises partof this suite by famed architect (of Palace of Westminster fame) A.W.N. Pugin. Let’s, now, take a look at another piece from this same parure dating to 1848.

Designed by Pugin and made in Birmingham, this headband of enameled gold is set with a ruby, brilliant-cut diamonds, turquoises and pearls, and is one of the few, rare pieces of jewelry designed by the architect. Like the other pieces in the larger parure (suite) of jewels, the headband is created in the Gothic style that Pugin favored. Pugin was inspired by medieval ecclesiastical decoration in almost everything he set his mind to.

The headband bears the inscription “CHRISTI CRUX EST MEA LUX” (Christ's cross is my [guiding] light). Pugin designed this suite of jewels for the lady he proposed to make his third wife, but that marriage was not to be. A few months later, he met and married Jane Knill and offered the parure to her. The new Mrs. Pugin allowed for the suite to be shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London as part of the Medieval Court.

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