An exquisite jewel, it comes from a large collection in Paris and dates from 1860-1870.
Ex votos were used to hold prayers or small bits of paper on which a care or concern were written. They were used in personal devotions and were popular in the mid to late 19th century both in France and Italy. While Italy favored thin, hammered silver hearts, the French (in true French fashion) preferred rich, sumptuously embellished objects.
The base of the piece cast from blended metals which have been gilded. Fifty-one bezel set glass stones fill the outer edge and "flame" portion with sparkling light. The center piece is an inset mother of pearl heart. It is placed in a very fine mount (1/4") which has a a design of tiny dots (giving it a very textural appearance). There are bezel teeth surrounding the mother of pearl heart which have tiny hand-cut squares beneath them which reflect the light from inside. A double "M" monogram (for Mary) is incised into the center of the heart.
A door opens at the back with a working hinge. There is a small ring at the back for hanging the ex voto from a ribbon. This example measures: 3 1/2" tall, 1 5/8" across widest point at middle and 3/8" thick. It survives in very good condition, with no missing stones. There are no visible cracks or chips to the mother of pearl.
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