Saturday, April 5, 2014

Painting of the Day: A Miniature of an Elector, c. 1690

Germany, c. 1690-1695
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the German imperial court of the Seventeenth Century, the “Elector” was a German prince who was entitled to take part in the election of the emperor. Enamel miniatures of the elector, set in jeweled frames, would be worn by those who wished to show a loyalty to the prince. It was good politics if not good fashion.

Enamels like this one played an important role in court life. The image of the elector – a German prince entitled to take part in the election of the Emperor – is set into a jewelled frame so that the wearer, probably someone in his service, could demonstrate their relationship and loyalty to him.

Here, dating between 1690 and 1695, we see an enamel on gold miniature made by J.M. Khaetscher showing the Elector Prince of the era. He is depicted in armor adorned with red ribbons and he wears a long, curled blond wig—as one does when one is an Elector. The miniature is set into a silver gilt frame which has been studded with rose-cut diamonds. This hangs from a brooch in the shape of an Electoral crown which has been set with rose-cut diamonds and decorated with red enamel (now mostly missing).

It was made in Dusseldorf, Germany.

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