Locket thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Locket

late 18th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Memorial jewellery to honour the dead is one of the largest categories of 18th- century jewellery to survive. Many mourning jewels have inscriptions that record the name and dates of the dead person.

From 1760 there was a new vogue for memorial medallions or lockets. These became especially popular in Britain, though similar work was produced throughout Europe. The lockets could be bought ready made, and the designs were standardised. Neo-classical motifs of funerary urns, plinths and obelisks joined the more traditional cherubs, angels and weeping willows. Hair was preserved as curls within the locket, or cut up and used to create designs.

Although this locket uses much of the imagery of memorial jewellery, the message is one of love. The seated young woman is holding a heart pierced by an arrow. Cupid, the mischievous god of love hides behind her. The figure of death and the inscription 'I alone can heal' may suggest that death is the only cure for hopeless love.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold frame, ivory painted in watercolour The back of plaited hair crossed by the name <i>Fergusson</i> on paper.
Brief Description
Engraved gold frame, ivory painted with watercolour with a miniature of a woman handing a heart pierced by an arrow to a figure of Death, surmounted by an inscription I ALONE CAN HEAL The back of plaited hair crossed by the name Fergusson, England, 1775-1800
Physical Description
Engraved gold frame, ivory painted in watercolour with a miniature of a woman handing a heart pierced by an arrow to a figure of Death, surmounted by an inscription I ALONE CAN HEAL The back of plaited hair crossed by the name Fergusson on paper.
Dimensions
  • Height: 4.5cm
  • Width: 2.7cm
  • Depth: 1.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Inscribed I ALONE CAN HEAL
  • crossed by the name Fergusson (The back)
Object history
Part of a group of memorial and mourning jewels bought from Dr Marco Guastalla, acting on behalf of 'an English lady residing in Italy' (museum numbers 846-1888 to 989-1888)
Subjects depicted
Summary
Memorial jewellery to honour the dead is one of the largest categories of 18th- century jewellery to survive. Many mourning jewels have inscriptions that record the name and dates of the dead person.



From 1760 there was a new vogue for memorial medallions or lockets. These became especially popular in Britain, though similar work was produced throughout Europe. The lockets could be bought ready made, and the designs were standardised. Neo-classical motifs of funerary urns, plinths and obelisks joined the more traditional cherubs, angels and weeping willows. Hair was preserved as curls within the locket, or cut up and used to create designs.



Although this locket uses much of the imagery of memorial jewellery, the message is one of love. The seated young woman is holding a heart pierced by an arrow. Cupid, the mischievous god of love hides behind her. The figure of death and the inscription 'I alone can heal' may suggest that death is the only cure for hopeless love.
Collection
Accession Number
950-1888

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record createdJuly 19, 2006
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