Forever will I remember thee

Touching mourning brooch of classicism in gold, around 1785

A tombstone with a large urn stands on a gras field. In ghostly grey, at the same time full of dignity and grace, a woman leans against the monument in mourning. The present brooch from around 1785 presents this scene in finest miniature painting in sepia colour, with plastic overlays of human hair. The arrangement is securely housed behind domed glass and surrounded by a simple setting of gold and a wreath of shimmering natural pearls. Today, more than 235 years after the brooch was created, we can no longer say to whom this touching memento once belonged - but it must have been a kind person. In its honour, this monument of remembrance stands to this day and reminds us of the unifying values of interpersonal relationships. Trinkets like this were common in the last decades of the 18th century. They were part of the many mourning rituals used to mark the passing of a loved one. Rather than simply an expression of personal grief for a departed individual, these jewels were also a sign of respect for the institutions of marriage and family on which the whole society was based. The symbolism of the mourning jewellery shows the formal language of classicism, which dominated the art world towards the end of the 18th century. Broken columns, urns, mourning figures in classical garb, sarcophagi, mourning willows and cypresses show the influence of antiquity. Hair, too, as a particularly personal material, was often used in the 18th and 19th centuries to make mementos. The brooch presented here belongs to this tradition and an intimate insight into a bygone era and touches us with its emotional symbolism to this day. On the type and dating, cf. also those in Gisela Zick: Gedenke mein. Freundschafts- und Memorialschmuck 1770-1870, Dortmund 1980, plates 3-4.

In her publication on "Schmuck des Biedermeier" (Jewellery of the Biedermeier era), Munich 1983, Brigitte Marquardt reproduces on p. 208 some pieces of jewellery of the commemorative culture of the 19th century made of human hair and explains their meaning: The processing of hair into pieces of jewellery is based on the meaning of hair as part of the whole human being, which is, as it were, immortal due to its durability. In popular belief, hair is the seat of life force. Jewellery of this kind was often given as gifts by soon married daughters to their mothers, for in this way, in the truest sense of the word, a part of the child leaving home could remain with the loving mother and be an everlasting reminder, even if the daughter had now set up her own household.

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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.