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Cross

  • Place of origin:

    Sicily (worn)
    France (Probably., made)
    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1830-1867 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hollow gold

  • Museum number:

    276-1868

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Women throughout Catholic Europe commonly wore Christian symbols, such as the cross, as jewellery. In Italy the crosses worn with traditional costume are usually very decorative, and were often worn with matching earrings. The design of this cross comes from France, where it is called a croix Jeanette, or croix à la Jeanette (John's cross). Its name comes from the fact that it was often bought by servant girls with their first pay packet. Servants were traditionally hired on St John's day. Almost every French woman would have worn one in the 19th century.

Crosses of this design often found their way to neighbouring countries, particularly Italy, and it is likely that they were also made there. This one was acquired in Sicily, but it has an unidentified gold mark which is more often associated with northern Italy. In France, women usually wore these crosses on a black velvet ribbon, fastened tightly round the neck like a choker, with a slide at the front. Italian women preferred to hang them from a gold chain, or a necklace of coral beads.

This cross was bought as part of the Castellani collection of Italian Peasant Jewellery at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1867.

Physical description

Flat, hollow gold cross with faceted decoration on each arm. The arms widen at the ends, with a small sphere at each tip. Lozenge shape in the centre with a repoussé bunch of flowers. Same decoration on both sides. At the top is a flat sheet metal fleur-de-lys, and a plain ring bale.

Place of Origin

Sicily (worn)
France (Probably., made)
Italy (made)

Date

1830-1867 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Hollow gold

Marks and inscriptions

Partial mark of a trefoil in oval frame.
Unidentified mark.
On one side of the fleur-de-lys, at top.

Dimensions

Length: 11.6 cm, Width: 8.2 cm, Depth: 1.8 cm

Descriptive line

Hollow gold cross with facetted arms, Italy, 1830-1867.

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

'Italian Jewellery as worn by the Peasants of Italy', Arundel Society, London, 1868, Plate 11

Materials

Gold

Subjects depicted

Cross

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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