Hair Art and Rememberance in the 19th Century

Posted by Marlene on May 16, 2010 in Lectures | Short Link

Victorian hair brooch with table worked open frame and palette worked woven hair center

A. Bernhard & Co. catalogue, 1870, Ornamental Hair Jewelry

Last Saturday I atteneded a lecture at The Visual Art Center in Richmond, VA, to see a presentation by  Suzanne Savery,  the Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Valentine Richmond History Center.  My interest in her talk was prompted by my own research and making of jewelry that references the ephemeral.  In her presentation about mourning jewelry  she spoke about the concept of using hair in jewelry, and that it arose primarily because people wanted a way to remember someone  separated from them either by distance or death and  that hair served as a physical memento at a time when photography was not readily available. It was a type of jewelry that remained popular until the early 1900’s and that many people today find morbid.  Ms. Savery brought several examples of hair jewelry with her for participants to look at and the brooch pictured here is similar to one she had on display.  I had the opportunity to talk with her after the lecture she said that while the Valentine museum has a rather large collection of this type of jewelry, it is not on display but if you are interested in research or learning more you can make an appointment to see the collection. Click the following link to learn more about memorial jewelry.

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