Black on white

Antique mourning brooch with hand painted silhouette on porcelain, dated 1851

In the 19th century, personal mourning was often expressed with pieces of jewellery. These could be black enamelled rings, woven bracelets made from the hair of the deceased person, or curls or photographs in medallions. An unusual testimony from the tradition of mourning jewellery is presented here: It is a porcelain plate that was glazed and painted in black on-glaze painting with a silhouette, a so-called silhouette. Fine details were then scratched into the outline. In this way, the expressive, characterful profile portrait of an elderly woman with a lace bonnet was created with reduced means. Although photography was already known and widespread around 1851, it was only later that it would become affordable for other sections of the population. So people were still happy to use other means to keep the face of a beloved person in mind. In addition to the miniature, people also resorted to the silhouette, which dates back to the 18th century. Its name, it is said, comes from the French finance minister Étienne de Silhouette, who, out of excessive thrift, decorated his house with silhouettes instead of paintings. Soon, however, the silhouette had lost this veneer of avarice; people appreciated the clear expression of this art form, its simple refinement. Who the woman was who was so lovingly commemorated here, we no longer know. The handwritten date below the silhouette records July 18, 1851, in German, as the date of her death. Her bonnet suggests that she was married. A beautifully preserved, unique commemorative piece from the Restoration period.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.