Seraph thumbnail 1
Seraph thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Seraph

Brooch
1989 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

With the exception of the portrait miniature, the use of the human form in jewellery is seldom purely representational. In the 1970s aspects such as humour, eroticism and symbolism were also present. For goldsmith and musician Kevin Coates, ‘the figurative element almost always exists within a larger abstract context’. Suffused with allegory, myth and mystery, Coates’s intellectually complex work draws on an extraordinary range of materials and surface colourings.

Coates engages the viewer in a dialogue. In 2008, he stated: ‘If jewellery has become jewel, then jewel must become poem. I realize that this is a personal philosophy, but it is at the very heart of what I seek in my work; I understand, too, that it requires the conspiracy of others to approach what I do in terms of connotation and not denotation, in other words to “read” it in terms of poetry not prose.’

A recent publication on Kevin Coates, which includes a catalogue raisonné by Françoise Carli, describes this brooch as follows:
'a triangular frame, with truncated corners forming three triangles of similar outline, is carved from titanium and coloured an electrifying green. Emerging from this celestial door, the form of an angel is appearing. Carved from opal, the head and neck glow with a myriad of tones echoing the green escutcheon of titanium. The purity of Sacred Love is perfectly captured in the sad radiance of features: his downward averted, glance could not be met with our own. Around the golden hair, and billowed by the movement, beautiful wings of patinated red are seen. Beneath them draperies cross the chest of the angel, fastened at their crossing by a jewel of identical form to that in which it appears as a detail.' (Kevin Coates. A Hidden Alchemy. Goldsmithing: Jewels and Table-Pieces, Stuttgart 2008)

Kevin Coates himself describes it as : ‘This being is from the red-winged order of Seraphim – highest in the ninefold hierarchies of Angels. Associated with light and purity, the Seraph is sent to inspire mankind with the gift of Divine Love.’


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Titanium, patinated silver, gold and opal
Brief Description
'Seraph' brooch by Kevin Coates, London 1989.
Physical Description
Brooch depicting an angel within a triangular frame of turquoise-coloured titanium. His face and body are of carved opal, his robes of silver, his wings of patinated silver and his hair of gold.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6.6cm
  • Width: 5.2cm
  • Depth: 2.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
COATES 89 (engraved signature)
Credit line
Anonymous gift
Subject depicted
Summary
With the exception of the portrait miniature, the use of the human form in jewellery is seldom purely representational. In the 1970s aspects such as humour, eroticism and symbolism were also present. For goldsmith and musician Kevin Coates, ‘the figurative element almost always exists within a larger abstract context’. Suffused with allegory, myth and mystery, Coates’s intellectually complex work draws on an extraordinary range of materials and surface colourings.



Coates engages the viewer in a dialogue. In 2008, he stated: ‘If jewellery has become jewel, then jewel must become poem. I realize that this is a personal philosophy, but it is at the very heart of what I seek in my work; I understand, too, that it requires the conspiracy of others to approach what I do in terms of connotation and not denotation, in other words to “read” it in terms of poetry not prose.’



A recent publication on Kevin Coates, which includes a catalogue raisonné by Françoise Carli, describes this brooch as follows:

'a triangular frame, with truncated corners forming three triangles of similar outline, is carved from titanium and coloured an electrifying green. Emerging from this celestial door, the form of an angel is appearing. Carved from opal, the head and neck glow with a myriad of tones echoing the green escutcheon of titanium. The purity of Sacred Love is perfectly captured in the sad radiance of features: his downward averted, glance could not be met with our own. Around the golden hair, and billowed by the movement, beautiful wings of patinated red are seen. Beneath them draperies cross the chest of the angel, fastened at their crossing by a jewel of identical form to that in which it appears as a detail.' (Kevin Coates. A Hidden Alchemy. Goldsmithing: Jewels and Table-Pieces, Stuttgart 2008)



Kevin Coates himself describes it as : ‘This being is from the red-winged order of Seraphim – highest in the ninefold hierarchies of Angels. Associated with light and purity, the Seraph is sent to inspire mankind with the gift of Divine Love.’
Bibliographic Reference
Kevin Coates. A Hidden Alchemy. Goldsmithing: Jewels and Table-Pieces, Stuttgart 2008
Collection
Accession Number
M.16-1996

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdApril 22, 2008
Record URL