Sentimental mourning brooch of gold with hair dust painting, around 1840
Brooches, pendants, or rings that incorporate, present, or are made from the hair of a loved one, such jewellery has been an important part of Western European and later American jewellery culture since the 17th century, but especially from the period of sensibility to the end of the 19th century. However, while most friendship and mourning jewellery used braided strands of hair, so-called hair dust painting was somewhat rarer: here hair ground to a fine dust was painted with tempera or watercolour on various materials, often ivory. In Switzerland, where we found this brooch, hair dust paintings were sometimes made by nuns as monastic work. The work presented here shows an urn on a pedestal with the monogram "A. P.", next to it a woman in a mourning robe. In the background, a delicate blue tints the sky of the romantic landscape, while a weeping willow, its drooping branches executed in hair dust, frames the scene to the left. Fittingly, the setting of the scene also picks up on the otherworldly theme of the depiction: The framing is completed on the sides by sculpturally shaped poppy capsules, which refer to the sleep of death and the realm of Morpheus. Motifs like this already existed at the end of the 18th century and remained popular well into the last third of the 19th century. The shape and workmanship of the setting, however, suggest that the brooch was created in the years around 1840. Since the art of hair-dust painting is lost today, the present piece has not only artistic but also historical value. Concerning the type and the dating, cf. also the information given by Gisela Zick: Gedenke mein. Freundschafts- und Memorialschmuck 1770-1870, Dortmund 1980.
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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.