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Watch

Artist: Morriset & Lukins (London, England)

Date: 1775-1793
Medium: Gold, enamel, half-pearls, rose-cut diamonds, hair
Dimensions:
63.5 x 46 x 19.1 mm
Signed:
Markings: Movement: "Morisset & Lukins, London, 1872" Pendant: French eagle control mark
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Frederick T. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 1023.8
Label Text
Memorial jewelry featured funerary motifs--weeping willows, a tomb, or urns--or hair from a deceased loved one. The central medallion on this watchcase contains plaited hair surrounded by a motif of forget-me-nots.

Text Entries

The publication of Edward Young’s Night thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality (1742) helped to rekindle interest in wearing memorials of the dead, which had been fashionable in England during the previous century. A considerable amount of memorial jewelry- first rings and after 1775 memorial clasps, brooches, pendants, and watches- was made and worn in England during the second half of the eighteenth century.(1) Memorial jewelry featured either miniatures of funerary motifs such as weeping women and children, or, set on the center panel, a blue or purple enamel plaque with gemset initials or a medallion filled with a plait of hair from a loved one. Pearls were used as garnishes in hairwork jewelry, perhaps because their soft white color moderated the starkness of the dark colors.

This watchcase typifies the period’s interest in memorial jewelry. The background is guilloche with dark blue transparent enamel. The central medallion contains a plait of woven hair surrounded by a wreath of silver forget-me-nots set with rose-cut diamonds. Half-pearls have been set in the bezel around the watchcase and the dial. Jewelry of a sentimental nature from this period was also embellished with pearls that encircled a central stone. (2)

1. For an illustration of memorial jewelry from the period, see Shirley Bury, Jewellery, 1789-1910: The International Era (Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eng.: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1991), 1: 67, p. 15.

2. For an illustration of a brooch with pearls, see Shirley Bury, Jewellery1789-1910: The International Era (Woodbridge, Suffolk, Eng.: Antique Collectors' Club, 1991), 1: 17, p. 5.