Treasures for body and mind

09 April, 2013

Portrait of Madame Bruyere- Jewelry in Art I

The rings, the necklaces, and the fascinating gold hoops suspending sparkling diamond loops...Madame Bruyere's jewelry made The Portrait of Madame Bruyere, painted by Antoine-Jean Gros in 1796, one of my favorite paintings.  Madame B clearly thought her jewelry was important although not ostentatious.  However, an argument can be made that Madame B is not just another jewelry fiend; her jewelry might have sent a coded message about what she thought was important- her past and those she lost. 

Madame B's long, black ring  indicated aristocratic connections.  The style was popular in 1785 in the French court after the birth of the dauphin.  It was called 'bagues a l'enfantement' because it showed the stars of the sky sprinkled around a central star- the new French heir to the throne. 
An earlier version of the ring, 'a firmament,' with diamonds evenly sprinkled on a black background was popular when Marie Antoinette became pregnant in 1774.  Thanks to Bell and Bird for the photo and history.
Both of her hands appear to wear mourning rings.  One ring is a buckle ring, common during this period, which sometimes contained braided hair from a deceased love one. 
This diamond and 18 kt ring from 1830 is engraved "Charlotte."  The hair disintegrated and was replaced with a silver band.  From Ruby Lane.
Her other pinkie finger wears a simpler black and gold ring.  Enamel and gold mourning rings were popular throughout the 1700s and 1800s.  

Also from Bell and Bird, this ring remembers, "Kathleen Chambers, Died May, 16th 1758, aged 64."
Madame B's sweet face distanced her from the political statement her hands made- could it be that she mourns the king and those who died with him?   

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