Once in a while a man comes into your life and things just seem better somehow.
I don’t know his name but this gentleman is one of the very few pieces from my collection I actually wear. Possibly because, not only is he quite sturdy, he seems…jolly.
Unlike most of my collection, this lovely portrait miniature is sentimental in nature. I imagine, because of the light colours, his traditional portrait stance of three-quarter profile, his colourful complexion, his lovely smile, and so on, that this was commissioned during his lifetime.
As we know from our Art of Mourning posts (and Jane Austen), sentimental jewellery in the form of portrait miniatures was a very popular form of art. They could be miniature paintings or in this format where it also doubled as an item of jewellery. Not only were they commissioned for family members, they also acted as love tokens given to your affianced, or other such love interest!
My jolly fellow bears no inscription, so there is no confirmation of identity, nor date of execution. However, from his clothes and hair one would hazard a guess of around 1860 – 1880 or thereabouts? Perhaps those schooled in fashion history could shed some light on the date – please feel free to comment.
He is painted on what is likely to be ivory, encased in thick domed glass and framed in a classic oval gold frame. The reverse holds plaited hair. Here is another clue that it is sentimental, two shades of hair entwined together forever – perhaps man and wife. It is also possible that the hair was added later; there is quite a lot of grey in the darker shade (his?) and then lovely lush red hair is his companion.
At any rate, I have worn him dancing, sipping champagne, dressed in my finest and celebrating with friends. From his flushed cheeks, gentle eyes and authentic smile, I think he quite enjoyed it!
– Marielle Soni