A gorgeous example, it would have been worn by a monk or preacher on a long chain which was hung from a belt. It originates from the south of France and dates towards 1880.
The initials, "SJ" stand for the religious order Society of Jesus (The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in sixteenth-century Spain. The members are called Jesuits.)
The body of the heart is wide and thick (2 1/2" x 1 1/2" thick). It is 3" tall. The gilded brass form is sumptuous. The initials are fancifully engraved with tiny dots and scrolling edges. There are engraved palm fronds and lilies flanking the initials. There is a thick braided edging to the outside of the front half. The back half has a bevel. There is a round cut out at the center and a ring for threading the chain through.
It is in very good antique condition: the patina is brilliant, there are slight indentations on the back which are typical with age and use. The hinge works properly.
This is the largest pectoral heart that we have come across, they are usually small (1-2"). It is an exquisite example with provenance to an old religious order.
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Fine French Small Antiques; Gilded Bronze, Objets of Vertu, Antique Books, Napoleon III, Porte Montre, Cast Bronze