The art of arranging these mourning and mementos of love and friendship was a booming industry in the 1800s, France. I've shown a page from a hair artist's catalogue of samples of ways a customer could choose to have their loved one's locks of hair worked. Sometimes the memento was to mark a daughter's departure to a convent, or a little son's first haircut, or a bride's offering to her husband or token to be left behind with her family as she moved away, unsure they'd ever be back. Tokens of love, and also of mourning. This one is a mourning item, as can be assessed by the inclusion of the tomb in center. Hair art showing typical iconography, a cross on top of the tomb (Catholic) and a weeping willow of hair (representing tears of the mourner), the dead tree limbs and the sprouting buds and berries (signifying the eternal nature of life. All worked against an oval of French opaline glass, it is often the case that either the opaline or that deep bombe cover glass sustain damage over time. But this one is splendid.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, no damage to the larger-than-most frame nor to the blown bombe glass. Hanging loop intact and most of the paper backing, too. Very slight looseness to a few bow strands of hair inside, but stable enough. The backing hasn't been opened up or I'd open again and more firmly adhere those couple of little locks, and you might with to do so once it's in your collection. BIG at 8" x 6.5" oval. Wood frame.
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Antique French Hair Art Memento, Mourning Icon w Tomb, in 8" x 6.5" Oval Wood Frame, Napoleon III
$347 $495 SALE