Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Gold, Diamond and Enamel Memorial Slide, 1775-1800

Memorial Slide
French, 1775-1800
The Victoria & Albert Musem

This gold brooch with silver-set rose cut diamonds, adorned with a basket of flowers in seed pearls, mother of pearl and gold--mounted on blue enamel—represents the sort of memorial jewelry which was prevalent in France in the Late Eighteenth Century.

Memorial jewelry was designed to honor a lost loved one. Given the mortality rate, memorial jewelry is one of the largest categories of jewels from this era to survive since it was the most prevalent.
Memorial medallions, brooches or lockets was quite the fashion during this era both in France and Britain. Some of them, like this brooch, could be worn in a variety of ways. For example, this brooch is considered a “slide” since it was, most frequently, worn on a ribbon around the throat. These pieces often incorporated the hair of the deceased either displayed behind glass or Stuart crystal or woven and braided into a design amongst the jewels.

Nei-classical motifs of funerary urns, plinths and obelisks were common themes along with the more traditional cherubs, angels and weeping willows. We should note, however, that not all of these pieces were meant as memorial jewelry. Some of it was meant to express love, friendship and devotion for the living and to act as a keepsake.

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