Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Aigrette, 1750-60

Portugal, 1750-60
From the Collection of Dame Joan Evans at
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This aigrette of silver-set chrysoberyls was designed to resemble a swirling spray with a single flower on a feathered scrolling stem. Made by an unknown jeweler in Portugal between 1750 and 1760, this aigrette is from the collection of Dame Joan Evans.

An aigrette, in jewelry, is so-called because of its resemblance to the feathers and plumes atop the head of an egret. These jewels are often meant to be worn as a turban ornament.  

This intricate, sparkling volute, however, wasn't likely intended for a turban, but rather served double-duty as a hair ornament and brooch to be worn on a lady's bodice. 

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