Thursday, April 7, 2016

Necklaces Through Portraiture and Their Popularity - Part II

Necklaces Through Portraiture and Their Popularity - Part 2
by Kimberly K. Walters

          We transition from part 1 of my blog post in February. This part focuses on the 18th century. There were a lot of changes and discoveries taking place in the new and old worlds that included the relationships between countries and their people. What happened politically affected almost every aspect of people's lives, which included trade, imports, and exports.

  As fashions in dress evolved, so, too, did fashions in jewelry. I have always heard and read that fashions emerged from the whims and fancies of the monarchy and the gentry classes, with the middling and lower classes copying the looks.

   Diamond mines discovered in Brazil in 1725 replaced India as a source for this most eternal of gemstones, and their availability increased. Jewels set with pastes (stones made of a hard lead glass cut to resemble diamonds) were also very sought after and their novelty enabled experiments with cutting that were not yet tried with diamonds.  

   Towards the end of the century, diamonds and gold were less popular than semi-precious and precious gemstones due to their cost, and alternative materials were being introduced such as the paste as we mentioned, rock crystal, pinchbeck, faux gold, etc.

     There were also new dictates in fashion, and these will be our focus when it comes to necklaces of this period. While I love to look at original pieces, many have been reset, reconfigured, and altered so they are no longer in their original state. Fortunately, while the configuration, clasp, or chain may have been replaced, the "bones," as I call them, truly show the details we need.

     In my studies, I have learned that necklaces were often fastened with ribbon or clasps (what they called "lockets"). These lockets were boxed to allow the entry of a spring catch, and were made in various shapes (oval, round, heart, etc.)—usually in gold, although silver is also seen. The lockets often had holes drilled through for the fastening of chains or beads, or rings soldered to them for the same purpose. Beads were often threaded and sewn to the ribbon ends. The necklaces that I make with rings on the ends are an alternative that allows someone to just change out a ribbon versus owning multiple strands of pearls with different colored ribbon ends.

Mrs. Joseph Mann by John Singleton Copley, 1753, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail from Portrait of a Woman, 1745, by Johann Ulrich Schellenberg, Wikimedia

     So, what was in fashion? New trends in necklaces in the early part of the 18th century seem to have been few and far between. I'm not saying they weren't worn, but the portraits I have come across from around 1700 to the 1740s either show just pearls, ribbon/lace, or nothing on the subjects' necks. This could be due to a couple of reasons. The first is that I'm not seeing all portraits, and the second is that many I have seen show the women in "fantasy" gowns (dressed from the artists' imaginations, or using a template they brought with them—often with a classical or historical theme—that simply required the addition of the sitter's face and other features).

     That leads me to wonder whether the jewelry in these portraits are "fantasy" as well? The focus seems to be on the clothing and hair. There are lots of flowers or jewels adorning the hair and clothing—possibly remnants from the 17th century—and pearls hang from the ears, but not much is seen around the neck. I wish it were all real!!!

Lady in a Lavender Dress by Michael Dahl, ca. 1700-1710
Wrapping gown with no jewelry

Marie Anne de Bourbon Condé by Gustaf Lundberg, 1720
No necklace, possible fantasy gown - I want her waist

          Necklaces in ribbon, lace, fur, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones (amethyst, amber, cornelian, garnets, diamonds, etc.), hair, cut steel, marcasite, gold beads, chain, and red coral are seen in portraiture of this era. These are not the only materials that they had, as there is so much in original pieces that we also see in glass (Vauxhall and Tassies come to mind), faux pearls, agate, cameos, intaglios, Wedgwood, iron, mosaics ... and I could go on.

styles of necklaces range from the bib, choker, collar and swag to the festoon, fretwork patterns and bolo, just to name a few. These styles go in and out of fashion as each decade passes. I hope that everyday women wore what they loved, not just what the fashion of the decade tended to be; or that they wore pieces of jewelry that were gifted to them from family, and were therefore sentimental.

   Miniature portraits also hung from ribbon. The colors of gold and white became a very popular combination towards the last quarter of the century, and gold jewelry embellished with pearls was especially in vogue.

     Formal 18th century jewelry was often made into parures (or sets) that had their own special boxes. A parure could consist of up to 16 matching pieces of jewelry, which included the necklace. A demi-parure may have had two or three pieces, of which the necklace was a critical part.  

     So let's go ahead and examine some portraits from the beginning of the century to the end. I have annotated a comment underneath each portrait to describe what I think we are seeing. You are welcome to e-mail me if you see something that I do not, or if you have original examples that can tie to a portrait.    

Elisabeth Farnese by Melendez, 1718-22
Pearl collar necklace with jeweled pendant

17th century emerald and diamond pendant, Spanish c.1650, Courtesy of S.J. Phillips

A painting of two girls from around 1720-30, (Source unknown)
Ribbon necklaces

Anna Elisabeth von der Shulenburg-Beetzendorf, Antoine Pesne, 1730
Pearl necklace with pearl bow pendant and ribbon tie

Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Habsburg  by Rosalba Carriera, 1730, Google Art Project
No necklace - diamond decoration on the gown stomacher

Frances Arnold by William Hogarth, 1738-1740 (Courtesy of BBC)
Pearl choker with ribbon tie

Magdalena Douw (Mrs. Harme), by John Heaton, 1740, Wintertur
Intricate pearl choker

Miss Mary Edwards by William Hogarth, 1742, The Frick Collection
Pearl choker with diamond stomacher style pendant

Source Unknown

María del Carmen Cortés y Cartavio, Peru, circa 1750, Denver Art Museum
Three strand pearl collar with what looks like a cut steel or diamond cross

18th century table cut diamond cross pendant, Iberian c.1710, S.J. Phillips

Henrietta Diana, Dowager Countess of Stafford, Allan Ramsay, 1759, Glasgow Museums
Ooohhhh - Fur choker

Portrait of a Lady by a student of Alexander Roslin, circa 1760
Possibly multiple strands of garnets

Portrait of a Lady by Thomas Frye, Courtauld Gallery, 1761
Glorious pearls in a bib necklace with pendant and ribbon tie

Mrs. Andrew Lindington by Joseph Wright of Derby, c.1761-2
Pearl choker and bib necklace with a pendant drop AND ribbon necklace combination with a ribbon tie

Anne Fairchild Bowler (Mrs. Metcalf Bowler) by John Singleton Copley,  ca. 1763, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Lovely sapphire collet choker with cluster pendant drop

An 18th century paste necklace with oval mixed-cut “aquamarine” colored pastes suspending a central pear shaped and circular paste four stone drop, to a velvet fastener, in gilt metal mounts with colored foil backs
Courtesy of Christies

Mrs. Barnard Elliott Jr. (Mary Elizabeth Bellinger) by Jeremiah Theus, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Garnet choker with pendant drop in a bow and teardrop shape
Garnets were very popular, even Martha Washington had a gorgeous garnet necklace

A Queen Anne original garnet necklace, circa 1770, densely set with faceted and rose-foiled almandine garnets, in a gilt metal setting. The necklace has a detachable pendaloque drop and tapers to ribbon fittings at either end. 
Courtesy of Rowan and Rowan

Maria Josepha of Austria, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Silk Ribbon and bow with ribbon tie

Detail of Queen Charlotte by Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1769, Wikimedia Commons
     Pearl bib necklace with pearl teardrop pendants with ribbon tie

Detail of Maria Josepha of Austria, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Combination lace, pearls, and diamond or paste choker with ribbon tie

Mrs Bedingfield and Her Daughter by Thomas Gainsborough, 1760-1770, Wikimedia Commons
Black ribbon choker with pearl ovals and ribbon tie

Mrs Gavin Lawson by John Hesselius, 1770  Dewitt Wallace Museum
Pearl bib necklace in multiple strands

Dorothea Maria Lienau by Jens Juel , 1772, Wikimedia Commons
Single strand of pink pearls with ribbon tie

Mrs John Dart by Jeremiah Theus, circa 1772-74, Metropolitian Museum of Art
Multiple strand necklace, possible fantasy gown

Sophie Friederike, Sammlung Christian Ludwig, Herzog zu Mecklenburg, by Georg David Matthieu, circa 1774, Wikimedia Commons
Double strand collet necklace in a swag or bib
I have seen collet necklaces as fairly early in portraiture for the 18th century

Unknown Lady (Possibly Mrs. Fitzhugh Green) by  John Durant  circa 1768-1770, Wikimedia Commons
Collet neckace, lace and teardrop pendant and possible knotted ribbon necklace with miniature in a heart pendant

Lucy Skelton Gilliam or Mrs Robert Gilliam by John Durand circa 1780, Dewitt Wallace Museum
Velvet choker with a ribbon bolo style necklace with silver lace and portrait miniature pinned over the heart

Adélaïde Genet, Madame Auguié, by Anne Vallayer-Coster, circa 1781, Wikimedia Commons
Pearl necklace in a bolo style with a miniature hanging from the end

Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Gainsborough, circa 1782, Wikimedia Commons
Ribbon bolo style necklace with portrait miniature

Lady in Chemise Dress with Blue Sash, 1785, Tansey Miniature Collection
Cornelian or red coral necklace?

Attributed to Andrés López, María Francisca Esquivel y Serruto, México, 1786, Wikimedia Commons
Pearl choker with teardrop pearl pendant

Mrs. James Courtney by James Earl, 1794, Wikimedia Commons
Chain festoon necklace

Matilda Stoughton de Jaudenes by Gilbert Stuart, 1794, Wikimedia Commons
Festoon pearl and red gems (rubies or garnets?)

Rebecca Pritchard (Mrs. William Mills) and Eliza Shrewsbury by James Earl, 1794-1796, Winterthur
Pearl swag necklace and gold bead necklace

Elizabeth DePeyster Peale by Charles Wilson Peale, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1798
Ribbon necklace with miniature

     Next:  Necklaces in the 19th Century!

7000 Years of Jewelry, edited by Hugh Tait, Firefly Books, 2006
Jewelry in America 1600-1900, Martha Gandy Fales, Antique Collector's Club, 1995
Antique Jewelry University On-Line (
Georgian Jewelry by Ginny Reddington Dawes, Antique Collector's Club, 2007