Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Hair Brooch, 1754

Memorial Brooch, 1754
From the Collection of Dame Joan Evans
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We’ve looked at many jewels which incorporated hair into the design. Though considered somewhat icky when viewed through modern eyes, this was a very normal, sentimental practice which rose to a new prominence in the Eighteenth Century (but one which had been carried out for many centuries before) and served as a way of keeping a piece of a loved one (either alive or deceased) close at hand at a time before photography.

The fact that such pieces survive to this day prove how special and important they were.

Here we see a brooch from the collection of Dame Joan Evans. The brooch is composed of a silver openwork bow, set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and pink sapphires over foil, and am enameled gold ribbon which is also set with gems and inscribed ELIZ EYTON OBIT FEB 1754 AET 81, surrounding a hair locket. The face of the locket is set with rock crystal. Made in 1754, this piece serves as a memorial and would have been worn as a reminder of the deceased. 

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