Brooches 18.06.2012

Angelic Skeletons in A Memento Mori Ribbon Slide

Memento Mori Ribbon Slide

Extraordinary is the only way to consider the symbolism used in this piece. From a modern perspective, it may be considered distasteful, but understanding the time, culture and art of the period that it was created, this piece is nothing but a powerful statement for its time.

Angel motifs were woven with the earlier memento-mori symbolisms quite commonly in the most popular memorial jewels, and this piece combines the two in a way rarely seen. The angels themselves have skeleton heads, rather than skeletons blowing trumpets (in the poses of angels) or angels flanked by skeletons.

These angels have lush enamelled colour (in pink and green) with wings, so they are not depicted in a morbid manner, other than the heads. Of course, this piece also has the typical gold wire cipher over hairwork, but may be one of the only pieces of its kind for the symbolism.

To have this piece commissioned shows the pinnacle of art and popularity for a piece in this instance; the skeleton heads were not considered a morbid feature, but rather an acknowledgement of mortality. Certainly a piece to be treasured and understood.

Courtesy: Barbara Robbins
Year: c.1700
Dedication: JKK