Mourning Ring thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Mourning Ring

ca. 1788 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Memorial rings have been made to commemorate people since the sixteenth century. Money was often left in wills in order for rings to be made for named individuals or to be distributed at the funeral. A general convention holds that white enamel rings were used for children and those who died unmarried and that black was used for those who were married but this convention was not universally observed.

This inscription on this ring commemorates Thomas Gainsborough who was a successful portrait and landscape painter, born in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1727 and subsequently active in Ipswich, Bath and London. Gainsborough reported feeling a cold spot on his neck whilst attending the trial of Warren Hastings, the head of the supreme council of Bengal, India who had been impeached for corruption. The cold spot was a cancerous growth and Gainsborough died on the 2 August, 1788. He was survived by his two daughters, Mary and Margaret.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled and engraved gold
Brief Description
Gold mourning ring enamelled in black. The hoop inscribed for the painter Gainsborough THOS GAINSBOROUGH ESQ.OB...AUG:1788. England, about 1788.
Physical Description
Gold mourning ring enamelled in black. The hoop inscribed THOS GAINSBOROUGH ESQ.OB...AUG:1788. Maker's mark 'HC'
Dimensions
  • Depth: 0.4cm
  • Diameter: 2.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • inscribed THOS GAINSBOROUGH ESQ.OB...AUG:1788. (The hoop;)
  • Maker's mark 'HC'
Subjects depicted
Summary
Memorial rings have been made to commemorate people since the sixteenth century. Money was often left in wills in order for rings to be made for named individuals or to be distributed at the funeral. A general convention holds that white enamel rings were used for children and those who died unmarried and that black was used for those who were married but this convention was not universally observed.



This inscription on this ring commemorates Thomas Gainsborough who was a successful portrait and landscape painter, born in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1727 and subsequently active in Ipswich, Bath and London. Gainsborough reported feeling a cold spot on his neck whilst attending the trial of Warren Hastings, the head of the supreme council of Bengal, India who had been impeached for corruption. The cold spot was a cancerous growth and Gainsborough died on the 2 August, 1788. He was survived by his two daughters, Mary and Margaret.
Collection
Accession Number
M.141-1978

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record createdApril 25, 2006
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