Museum Monday: The Holbeinesque

We are often enchanted by the jewelry in historical portraits. It’s opulent and romantic, and makes us wonder what sorts of fancy parties one attended in such extravagant jewels. It turns out that the folks in Victorian times were as equally enamored of ancient styles as we are of theirs. In the mid-19th century, jewelers fashioned incredible pieces, even suites of jewelry, that were directly inspired by the gems they saw in museums, and by Renaissance portraiture.

Six Sketches for Pendants by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-43. British Museum, London

Six Sketches for Pendants by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-43. British Museum, London

Portrait of Jane Seymour c. 1537. Oil and tempera on oak, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Portrait of Jane Seymour c. 1537. Oil and tempera on oak, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

The Devonshire Parure, Attributed to Hancock c.1855, Chatsworth House, Devonshire, England

The Devonshire Parure, Attributed to Hancock c.1855, Chatsworth House, Devonshire, England

Victorian jewelers looked to the portraits and sketches of one Renaissance artist in particular, Hans Holbien the Younger. The first jewelry made that was truly “Holbienesque” was the Devonshire Parure, a seven piece set that included 88 fine gems; it was made around 1856. Jewelry made in the Renaissance Revival style features a centered gemstone with bright gold work, intricate enamel, and delicate dangles, usually pearls.

Victorian agate, 18K gold and pearl brooch pendant, at Gray & Davis

Victorian agate, 18K gold and pearl brooch pendant, at Gray & Davis

Victorian 14K gold, garnet and pearl ring, at Gray & Davis

Victorian 14K gold, garnet and pearl ring, at Gray & Davis

They say history repeats itself, and it’s certainly true with antique jewelry trends. What’s old is new again.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holbeinesque_jewellery

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Historical_Revival_in_Jewelry