Supported by:

The content here at Jewelry-History.com, Jewels of Note is supported by EraGem. EraGem is a fine estate jewelry company that specializes in vintage and antique engagement rings as well as other high quality previously owned jewelry treasures. The author, Angela Magnotti Andrews, also actively contributes to the EraGem Post, which also features Jewelry History, News, and Happenings.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Nubian (and Egyptian) Ram God, Amani (Amon) is Associated with Life

Necklace with human and ram's head pendants
270 BC-320 AD, Gold and Carnelian
Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This gold and carnelian necklace, an artifact from Ancient Nubia, is on view now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts's newly opened exhibition Gold & The Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia. The necklace features 54 gold pendants molded into the forms of a woman wearing the White Crown of Egypt and a ram's head wearing a double uraeus and sun disk. The ram's head is most certainly a representation of the mighty god Amani.

In Nubian and Egyptian mythology, Amani was considered the creator of all life, and eventually, in Nubia, he became associated with the birth of all rulers and even the other gods in their pantheon. At some point, the Egyptians came to believe that Amen originated on a small mountain, Gebel Barkal (Jebel Barkal), in Nubia (what is now Northern Sudan).

As time went on, it was believed that Amen came to Nubian queens in human form and impregnated them with divine rulers. These sons and daughters became the queens and kings of Nubia, and many took some form of Amani's name. Examples include, King Amaninatakelebte (r. 538-519 BC), King Talakhamani (r. 435-431 BC), and Queen Amanishakheto (ruler in the late 1st century BC).

It is supposed that this necklace, and many others like it, were worn by Nubian pharaohs. Like their Egyptian contemporaries, the Nubians were cultured and sophisticated in the arts and strategies of war. However, they were also superstitious. These necklaces not only served as status symbols, but likely also as amulets. It was their belief that wearing the gods on their persons afforded them the power of their presence and protection.

For more information or to view this necklace in person, you can click on the MFA's website for details. The show is currently on view in the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery (#104).

Bibliography

  1. Bianchi, Robert Steven. Daily Life of the Nubians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.
  2. Emory/Michael C. Carlos Museum. "A Necklace Fit for a King." Accessed August 1, 2014. http://carlos.emory.edu/ODYSSEY/Teachers/ll/Ancient_Egypt_lesson_plan/Rams_Head_Necklace_Lesson.pdf.
  3. Kjeilen, Tore. "Ancient Nubian gods." LexicOrient (LexLook Encyclopedia). Accessed August 1, 2014. http://i-cias.com/e.o/nubia_rl_gods.htm.
  4. LaChiusa, Chuck. "Uraeus." Illustrated Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology. Buffalo Architecture and History Website, 2009. http://buffaloah.com/a/archsty/egypt/illus/illus.html#Uraeus.
  5. Markowitz, Yvonne J. and Denise M. Doxey. Jewels of Ancient Nubia. Boston: MFA Publications, 2014.
  6. Museum of Fine Arts Boston. "Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia to go on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," Press Release, June 23, 2014.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Divine Colors of Hathor

Bracelet with Image of Hathor, 100 BC
Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Used with permission.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This ancient artifact is on display as part of newly opened exhibition, Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia, on view at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. The bracelet was fashioned during the Meroitic period of Nubia's history, probably around 100 BC.

Decorated with exquisite gold work and stunning enamel work, this bracelet features prominently the goddess Hathor (Isis), who serves as the great mother goddess of Ancient Egypt and Nubia. Here she is depicted in gold, seated on a throne and wearing a sun disk with two cow horns and a rearing cobra, which connotes royalty and/or divine authority.

She is set in relief against a dark blue background, a supremely preserved example of the Nubian mastery of enameling. Though the surface has thinned over time, the original composition of the glass they used is "nearly unaltered" {4, p.150}. This portion of the bracelet was made out of soda-lime glass of unknown origins, tinted with a slight bit of cobalt to attain the deep blue coloring.

The aqua-colored and red-violet sections of the bracelet show more wear, making analysis difficult. Manganese and copper tint the purplish-red areas, a color not typically seen in Nubian pieces. The aqua color, as seen on this and other pieces from this time period, is likely colored by manganese, cobalt, copper, and a high level of iron {4, p.150}.

These colors were more than decorative. Every god and goddess was associated with different colors. Hathor (called Isis in Egyptian lore) was represented by the colors green, blue, and black {2}. Both black and green were associated with everything we now attribute to the color green--life, renewal, growth, and the earth's plant life {2}. Blue was connected to the waters and the heavens, and since Hathor was revered as the mother of all life, it makes sense that her colors would be both earthly and divine.

The red color represents the counterpoint to Hathor's rich contribution to earth. Associated in Ancient Egypt with the color of the desert, red represents the chaos and disorder waiting around every corner. It sometimes represented death, infertility, and destruction {1}. However, being the color of blood, red might also represent life and protection {1}. It was commonly used to decorate protective amulets, which this bracelet may have been for someone at one time.

To view this spectacular specimen up close, you need only visit the MFA during their open hours between now and May 14, 2017. Details are available on the MFA's website.

Bibliography

  1. About.com African History. "Red Colors in Ancient Egypt." Accessed July 17, 2014. http://africanhistory.about.com/od/egyptology/ss/EgyptColour_6.htm.
  2. Isidora. "Is Isis a Black Goddess?" Isiopolis Blog, December 2, 2011. http://isiopolis.com/2011/12/02/is-isis-a-black-goddess/.
  3. Markowitz, Yvonne J. and Denise M. Doxey. Jewels of Ancient Nubia. Boston: MFA Publications, 2014.
  4. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia." Accessed July 17, 2014. http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/gold-and-gods.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On View Soon at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston: A Nubian Gold Bracelet Bearing the Image of the Goddess Hathor

Bracelet with Image of Hathor, 100 BC
Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Used with permission.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This weekend, you can view this stunning ancient artifact in upcoming exhibition, Gold & The Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia, opening Saturday, July 19, 2014, at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. Ancient Nubia (now Sudan) served as the epicenter for gold to the Egyptians, Greeks, and other early Mediterranean civilizations.

The exhibition will feature 100 glittering treasures, including this gold bracelet featuring an array of sophisticated techniques in gold and enamel. Front and center is a representation of the goddess Hathor, worshiped for her embodiment of love, fertility, motherhood, and music {4, p112}.

Here she is depicted in gold, seated on a throne and wearing her usual headdress, a sun disk with two cow horns and a uraeus (the rearing cobra which connotes royalty and/or divine authority). In her hand she holds a staff which has as twin end pieces a pair of ankhs, the symbol of Life.

She is set in relief against a dark blue background, a supremely preserved example of the Nubian mastery of enameling. Though the surface has thinned over time, the original composition of the glass they used is "nearly unaltered" {4, p.150}. 


This important Nubian bracelet was discovered within a pyramid in Gebel Barkal during the joint archaeological expedition conducted between 1905 and 1942 by Harvard University and the MFA Boston. This exhibit will be on extended view from July 17, 2014 through May 14, 2017. More information is available on the MFA's website.

Bibliography

  1. About.com African History. "Red Colors in Ancient Egypt." Accessed July 17, 2014. http://africanhistory.about.com/od/egyptology/ss/EgyptColour_6.htm.
  2. Isidora. "Is Isis a Black Goddess?" Isiopolis Blog, December 2, 2011. http://isiopolis.com/2011/12/02/is-isis-a-black-goddess/.
  3. Markowitz, Yvonne J. and Denise M. Doxey. Jewels of Ancient Nubia. Boston: MFA Publications, 2014.
  4. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia." Accessed July 17, 2014. http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/gold-and-gods.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Kate Middleton's Scant Jewelry is Indicative of Her Elegant and Understated Style

Kate Middleton (detail) by Paul Emsley, 2012.
Photo Source: Big Think

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

I have scanned hundreds of portraits, looking for those that jump out as my favorites for the Jewelry in Portraits series. Unfortunately, so many amazing portraits portray very little in the way of jewels. Having little to no jewelry to talk about renders most of these otherwise gorgeous portraits unacceptable choices. However, after seeing this portrait of HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, realizing that the scant jewelry she wears is actually indicative of her elegant and understated style, I concluded that I could most definitely highlight her jewelry, or rather the absence thereof.

This is a groundbreaking portrait, one worth documenting in a slightly different light than has been done in the media since it was first displayed on January 11, 2013. The Duchess of Cambridge has a natural beauty that hardly needs enhancement, so that her one visible sapphire and diamond earring is all the more stunning against her chestnut locks.

This particular earring has enormous sentimental value to her and to her husband, and it matches perfectly the only other jewelry I am absolutely certain that she is wearing just out of view in this portrait—her sapphire and diamond engagement ring nestled against her wedding band made of 18k Welsh gold.

Both pieces of jewelry were gifts from her husband, Prince William, who gave them to her because both Kate and the jewels are “very special to him” {English, “What’s in a ring?”}. The ring and the earrings were among his mother’s favorite pieces {Boniface}, and he wanted his wife to have these precious heirlooms as a way to honor his mother’s life and somehow include her in the happy event of their wedding {Wilkes}.

Originally in the form of heavy sapphire studs with diamond halos, Princess Diana’s white gold earrings were altered for Catherine Middleton into a drop style with the large sapphire cabochon, which is surrounded by nine round brilliant diamonds, suspended from a single diamond stud {Diana’s Jewels}. Her engagement ring mirrors this design, featuring “a large oval sapphire surrounded by 14 round diamonds set in 18k white gold” {Diana’s Jewels}.

PREVIOUS                                                                                                               

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Boniface, Susie. “Kate Middleton given Diana’s favourite earrings by Prince William.” Mirror News. July 24, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kate-middleton-given-dianas-favourite-143487.
2. Cruz, Debbie. “Kate Middleton’s jewelry in 2012 (Photos).” Examiner. December 25, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.examiner.com/article/kate-middleton-s-jewelry-2012.
3. Diana’s Jewels. “Earrings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/earringscatherine.htm.
4. Diana’s Jewels. “Rings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/ringscatherine.htm.
5. English, Rebecca. “I’m thrilled! Kate puts on a brave face as she sees first official portrait critics are calling ‘rotten’.” DailyMailOnline. January 11, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2260655/Kate-Middleton-Rotten-official-portrait-Duchess-Cambridge-artist-Paul-Emsley-unveiled.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490.
6. English, Rebecca. “What’s in a ring? Palace confirms that Prince William will not be wearing a wedding band when he marries Kate Middleton.” DailyMailOnline. March 31, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1372078/Royal-wedding-Palace-confirms-Prince-William-wont-wear-ring-marries-Kate-Middleton.html.
7. Faiola, Anthony. “In uproar over portrait of Duchess of Cambridge, its artist speaks out.” The Washington Post. January 31, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-uproar-over-duchess-of-cambridge-portrait-its-artist-speaks-out/2013/01/31/cbe0eff4-6bc4-11e2-8f4f-2abd96162ba8_story.html.
8. Murray, Rheana. “Kate Middleton’s first official portrait revealed: Painting of Duchess of Cambridge met with mixed reaction.” New York Daily News. January 11, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kate-middleton-official-portrait-revealed-article-1.1238145.
9. National Portrait Gallery. “HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2013/hrh-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
10. National Portrait Gallery. “News Release: National Portrait Gallery commissions first official painted portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge.” Last updated January 11, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/about/press/news-release-national-portrait-gallery-commissions-first-official-painted-portrait-of-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
11. National Portrait Gallery. “The BP Portrait Award 2012: The Exhibition.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2012/the-exhibition.php.
12. Satter, Raphael. “Critics Divided Over Duchess of Cambridge Portrait.” The Big Story. Last updated January 11, 2013. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/prince-williams-wife-kate-gets-official-portrait.
13. Wilkes, David and Fay Schlesinger. “A ring fit for his mother…and his love: Prince William’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring for Kate.” DailyMailOnline. November 17, 2010. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1330366/Prince-Williams-engagement-ring-Kate-Middleton-sapphire-diamonds.html.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Paul Emsley Photo-Realistic Style Captures Kate Middleton's Timeless Beauty

Artist Paul Emsley poses next to his portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
The portrait is on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Photo Source: MSN News
© AP Photo/Sang Tan, 2013

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Paul Emsley’s photographic style is somewhat controversial among art critics, and many believe he butchered the most popular royal since Princess Diana. It may be that he has given the Duchess of Cambridge a timeless beauty, an ageless wisdom that she will “grow into” in the coming years. Or it may be that he has captured her perfectly with his photo-realistic style, and that this is indeed the face of a grown young woman who is already learning to balance a private inner life with a very public outer life.

True to Kate’s wishes, Mr. Emsley worked tirelessly over the course of several months to capture her natural self, which he describes from his two sittings with her as “enormously open and generous” {National Portrait}. He took many photographs of her during their time together, and in their final sitting at KensingtonPalace, he allowed her to choose which photograph he would use for the portrait.

In his early days as a painter Mr. Emsley “worked from life,” but his anxiety over the comfort of his subjects and the advances in photographic precision have shaped his current practice of working primarily from photographs. From the original image, he made close-ups of the details around her eyes, her mouth, her cheekbones, and her hair. It is perhaps this close-up quality, combined with his characteristic dark background, that has most rankled the art critics, many of whom believe that the portrait ages her by ten years or more. The Duchess, however, did not appear rankled in the least by this portrayal of her. It is said that she praised it highly, as did her husband, Prince William.

Unlike the public, who is used to her enhanced media photos, Kate and William must have appreciated the subtle nuances, including the wrinkles around her mouth and her unique cheekbone structure. Perhaps it is wise to take cues from them. Perhaps this is the truest representation of the Duchess that we have seen to date.

PREVIOUS                                                                                                               NEXT

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Boniface, Susie. “Kate Middleton given Diana’s favourite earrings by Prince William.” Mirror News. July 24, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kate-middleton-given-dianas-favourite-143487.
2. Cruz, Debbie. “Kate Middleton’s jewelry in 2012 (Photos).” Examiner. December 25, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.examiner.com/article/kate-middleton-s-jewelry-2012.
3. Diana’s Jewels. “Earrings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/earringscatherine.htm.
4. Diana’s Jewels. “Rings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/ringscatherine.htm.
5. English, Rebecca. “I’m thrilled! Kate puts on a brave face as she sees first official portrait critics are calling ‘rotten’.” DailyMailOnline. January 11, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2260655/Kate-Middleton-Rotten-official-portrait-Duchess-Cambridge-artist-Paul-Emsley-unveiled.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490.
6. English, Rebecca. “What’s in a ring? Palace confirms that Prince William will not be wearing a wedding band when he marries Kate Middleton.” DailyMailOnline. March 31, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1372078/Royal-wedding-Palace-confirms-Prince-William-wont-wear-ring-marries-Kate-Middleton.html.
7. Faiola, Anthony. “In uproar over portrait of Duchess of Cambridge, its artist speaks out.” The Washington Post. January 31, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-uproar-over-duchess-of-cambridge-portrait-its-artist-speaks-out/2013/01/31/cbe0eff4-6bc4-11e2-8f4f-2abd96162ba8_story.html.
8. Murray, Rheana. “Kate Middleton’s first official portrait revealed: Painting of Duchess of Cambridge met with mixed reaction.” New York Daily News. January 11, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kate-middleton-official-portrait-revealed-article-1.1238145.
9. National Portrait Gallery. “HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2013/hrh-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
10. National Portrait Gallery. “News Release: National Portrait Gallery commissions first official painted portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge.” Last updated January 11, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/about/press/news-release-national-portrait-gallery-commissions-first-official-painted-portrait-of-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
11. National Portrait Gallery. “The BP Portrait Award 2012: The Exhibition.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2012/the-exhibition.php.
12. Satter, Raphael. “Critics Divided Over Duchess of Cambridge Portrait.” The Big Story. Last updated January 11, 2013. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/prince-williams-wife-kate-gets-official-portrait.
13. Wilkes, David and Fay Schlesinger. “A ring fit for his mother…and his love: Prince William’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring for Kate.” DailyMailOnline. November 17, 2010. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1330366/Prince-Williams-engagement-ring-Kate-Middleton-sapphire-diamonds.html.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Duchess of Cambridge by Paul Emsley, 2011

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge by Paul Emsley, 2012
A National Portrait Gallery commission given by Sir Hugh Leggatt
in memory of Sir Denis Mahon through the Art Fund

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Reflecting the strains of blue from her shirt and the dark background, the twinkling light emanating from her eyes radiates a playful depth of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Her private smile only adds to that depth. Her chestnut hair cascades like a waterfall, ending in churning brown curls that beg to be touched.

Her beauty is classic and true. Her warmth radiates from the canvas, and her elegant choice in jewelry is perfectly understated. One sapphire earring haloed in diamonds hangs from her right ear, the other shrouded by her lovely hair. Instead of a necklace, she wears a “Windsor blue pussy-bow blouse” tied neatly at her neck {English, “I’m thrilled!”}.

Her beauty is captivating, and though Mr. Paul Emsley, her portraitist, has caught her playful smile, he has also firmly established her grace, poise, and assuring presence. All these will one day serve her well when she becomes Queen of England.

The painting of Her Royal Highness was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. Mr. Emsley was one of four finalists chosen by the Gallery’s director, Sandy Nairne. Among those who participated in the interviews with the four finalists was the Duchess of Cambridge herself.

Having won the BP Portrait Award in 2007, Mr. Emsley, born in Glasgow and raised in South Africa, was a lauded choice to paint this first portrait of Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Held annually at the National Portrait Gallery, the BP Portrait Award claims to “showcase the very best in contemporary painting from around the world.” That makes Mr. Emsley among the best of the best in 21st century painters. 

                                                                                                                                    NEXT

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Boniface, Susie. “Kate Middleton given Diana’s favourite earrings by Prince William.” Mirror News. July 24, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kate-middleton-given-dianas-favourite-143487.
2. Cruz, Debbie. “Kate Middleton’s jewelry in 2012 (Photos).” Examiner. December 25, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.examiner.com/article/kate-middleton-s-jewelry-2012.
3. Diana’s Jewels. “Earrings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/earringscatherine.htm.
4. Diana’s Jewels. “Rings Catherine.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dianasjewels.net/ringscatherine.htm.
5. English, Rebecca. “I’m thrilled! Kate puts on a brave face as she sees first official portrait critics are calling ‘rotten’.” DailyMailOnline. January 11, 2013. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2260655/Kate-Middleton-Rotten-official-portrait-Duchess-Cambridge-artist-Paul-Emsley-unveiled.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490.
6. English, Rebecca. “What’s in a ring? Palace confirms that Prince William will not be wearing a wedding band when he marries Kate Middleton.” DailyMailOnline. March 31, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1372078/Royal-wedding-Palace-confirms-Prince-William-wont-wear-ring-marries-Kate-Middleton.html.
7. Faiola, Anthony. “In uproar over portrait of Duchess of Cambridge, its artist speaks out.” The Washington Post. January 31, 2013. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-uproar-over-duchess-of-cambridge-portrait-its-artist-speaks-out/2013/01/31/cbe0eff4-6bc4-11e2-8f4f-2abd96162ba8_story.html.
8. Murray, Rheana. “Kate Middleton’s first official portrait revealed: Painting of Duchess of Cambridge met with mixed reaction.” New York Daily News. January 11, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kate-middleton-official-portrait-revealed-article-1.1238145.
9. National Portrait Gallery. “HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2013/hrh-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
10. National Portrait Gallery. “News Release: National Portrait Gallery commissions first official painted portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge.” Last updated January 11, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/about/press/news-release-national-portrait-gallery-commissions-first-official-painted-portrait-of-the-duchess-of-cambridge.php.
11. National Portrait Gallery. “The BP Portrait Award 2012: The Exhibition.” Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2012/the-exhibition.php.
12. Satter, Raphael. “Critics Divided Over Duchess of Cambridge Portrait.” The Big Story. Last updated January 11, 2013. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/prince-williams-wife-kate-gets-official-portrait.
13. Wilkes, David and Fay Schlesinger. “A ring fit for his mother…and his love: Prince William’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring for Kate.” DailyMailOnline. November 17, 2010. Accessed January 31, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1330366/Prince-Williams-engagement-ring-Kate-Middleton-sapphire-diamonds.html.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jewelry in Portraits: Queen Adelaide's Jewels, 1836

Queen Adelaide, 1836 (cropped as a close-up)
Painted by Mr. Martin Shee
Image is in the Public Domain
Source: Wikipedia

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The few details evidenced in the painting make it conceivable that Her Majesty's beautiful hat pin is the brooch now called Queen Adelaide’s Brooch. Though it was first made as a clasp for one of the Queen’s pearl necklaces, the jewel was worn by successive queens as either a snap or a brooch {Roberts, p. 34}.

Her necklace appears to be composed of diamonds set in high-karat gold. However, it’s more probable that it is the Queen’s favored pearl necklace. In many portraits of Queen Adelaide during and after her reign, she wears a similar necklace composed of a single strand of high-quality white pearls.

Her stomacher appears to be paved in diamonds, with three larger central stones that might be either diamonds or pearls, and it is looped around her waist by a link chain, also set with either large brilliants of round pearls. Though it looks remarkably like Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Brooch, it could not possibly be since that brooch was made nearly thirty years after this portrait was painted.

Her pearl bracelets* appear to match the description of Queen Charlotte’s pearl bracelets. If they are not her mother-in-laws bracelets, then they might be replicas which Adelaide had made, perhaps with her husband’s portrait, cypher, and hair made into clasps framed in diamonds. Finally, though this historian has found nary a description or picture of Queen Adelaide’s wedding and keeper rings, the shape and position of the rings in Mr. Shee’s portrait indicate that these may be the rings she wears here.

*I came across this passage in a magazine from 1885 (Tidings of Nature): "...it being then the fashion to wear two bracelets exactly alike..." The line is reference to the Empress Josephine, who held court in France in the early 1800s. Though it's possible that Queen Adelaide's choice had nothing to do with fashion, it is of course possible that this was a popular trend, as well.

PREVIOUS                                                                                                               

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. “1836 Queen Adelaide by Sir Martin Archer Shee (Royal Collection).” Grand Ladies Site. February 20, 2011. Accessed January 23, 2013. http://www.gogmsite.net/empire-napoleonic-and-roman/subalbum-queen-adelaide/1836-queen-adelaide-by-sir-.html.
2. Orr, Clarissa Campbell, ed. Queenship in Britain, 1660-1837: Royal Patronage, Court Culture and Dynastic Politics. ManchesterManchester University Press, 2002.
3. Roberts, Hugh. The Queen’s DiamondsLondon: Royal Collection Publications, 2012.
4. Shee, Martin Archer [Jr., sic] of the Middle TempleLife of Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A., Volume the Second. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860.