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Locket

  • Place of origin:

    Blois (possibly, made)
    Paris (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1630-1640 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted enamel on gold

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.301-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 71, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 6, shelf 1

Many enamel painters were also trained as goldsmiths and the two trades had close links. In the French centres of Blois, Châteaudun and Paris, watches, jewellery and other small items of silver and gold were often decorated with enamelled allegorical figures. On this locket, Autumn and Winter are depicted on the front, with Spring and Summer on the back. It may have been produced in Blois or Paris.

In the 17th century, new techniques of painting enamels allowed delicate portraits resembling tiny oil paintings to be created. These enamel miniatures were first fashionable in continental Europe, but were particularly in vogue in Britain from the 1720s to 1760s. Painted enamels were made by firing finely milled glass which had been coloured with metal oxides onto a metal base, usually gold or copper. The colours had to be applied and fired in several stages, according to the firing temperature required by each colour. Incredible precision was needed for a successful enamel portrait, since each firing carried risks of cracking and bubbling.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Oval, two-sided, enamelled gold, hinged locket pendant. One side bears a depiction of a woman and an old man: the woman, personifying Autumn, wears a gold cape and orange dress with her breasts exposed; and the bearded man, personifying Winter, wears a purple cape and a gold helmet. On the reverse is an image of two girls, personifying Spring and Summer, with flowers in their hair. Inside the lid is a depiction of two peasants and a lamb in a landscape.

Place of Origin

Blois (possibly, made)
Paris (possibly, made)

Date

1630-1640 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Painted enamel on gold

Dimensions

Height: 6.59 cm, Width: 4.24 cm, Depth: 0.40 cm

Object history note

Provenance: D.S. Lavender of London, bought in October 1982.

Descriptive line

Two-sided locket pendant with miniatures, enamel on gold, French school, ca. 1630-40

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Coffin, Sarah and Bodo Hofstetter. Portrait Miniatures in Enamel. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with the Gilbert Collection, 2000. 168 p., ill. Cat. no. 22, pp. 70-71. ISBN 0856675334.
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 85, plate 65. ISBN9781851775934

Materials

Enamel; Gold

Techniques

Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Spring; Four seasons; Autumn; Lamb; Summer; Winter

Categories

Metalwork; Jewellery; Enamels

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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