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Ornamental Hairwork in Jewelry and Portrait Miniature 

a gold brooch with coils in the shape of the infinity symbol and a harp hanging from the center

Image: United States, Brooch, 1860s, hair, gold, glass, Gift of family of Mrs. W.T. Lenoir and Mrs. J.S. Skinner,1967.249

May 27, 2017 – November 2018

Mementos of Affection: Ornamental Hairwork in Jewelry and Portrait Miniatures, the upcoming rotation of portrait miniatures and hair jewelry going on display in Gallery 213 on May 27, 2017, will delve into the dual themes of why these keepsakes were created and cherished: love and mourning. These pieces are emblems of familial and romantic love that were personal records of family members, engagements, and marriage. Because hair does not decay it also came to represent a way to make the memory of deceased loved ones immortal.

Mourning hairwork developed into an array of symbolic styles, from engraved Georgian enamel-work to scenes of a mourning widow at the grave, that served as a reminder of those who had passed away. In addition to these themes, there will be a section discussing how hairwork is done, including a sampler and tools.

Mementos of Affection: Ornamental Hairwork in Jewelry and Portrait Miniatures will be on display in Gallery 213. 

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