Antique French mourning hair artwork in memory of a child. Sentimental miniatures, like sentimental jewelry, reached a height of popularity in the late Georgian era / Napoleonic era. Entirely crafted from hair as a lasting memento, this piece features an arrangement of pansy flowers, symbolizing thoughtfulness and remembrance. The scene is dimensional, the petals of the flowers raised to give the illusion of depth. Below is a monogram of initials R.D. along with a date of February 16th 1903 - December 10th 1905, in remembrance of a child of 2 years of age. Set under domed convex glass and housed within an ebonized wood frame with brass surround. To the back is a written notation in French: Cheveux de ma sœur décédée d'une méningite enterrée a Malakoff | Hair of my sister who died of meningitis, buried in Malakoff (a town in the Hauts-de-Seine department southwest of Paris). In overall very good antique condition. Measures 6 1/8" x 5 1/4" oval.
This item would have been a keepsake intended to exist throughout a lifetime, much the same as a photograph today would be. So popular, specialty shops devoted to this art medium were once throughout Europe, and France, grand fabriques d’ouvrages en cheveux where artistes-dessinateurs spent countless hours expertly working hair commissioned into flowers, curls and braids, and/or rarely sceneries to memorialize or express devotion.
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Quality Antiques, Sterling Silver, Porcelain & Decorative Arts