An unusual Archaeological Revival hinged hair comb with classical Greek heads
CONDITION: good vintage condition
SIZE: 3 ins h x 3½ ins w (7.5 x 9 cms)
MATERIALS: metal, glass stones, horn
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1860s – 1880s
Here we have a handsome example of a mid Victorian hair comb which is made in the so called “classical” or archaeological revival. One of the characteristics of the Victorian period was the immense amount of borrowing which occurred from other periods and cultures. Classical Greece or Rome have been plundered in this unusual comb which has a series of portrait heads arranged across the top.
The comb has a curved heading with a lower gallery made up from two coloured metals – silver tone and copper. Above this is an open gallery which supports seven classical female heads which are graduated in size. The heads are done in the pseudo-classical style and each is presented against a background of open scroll work. Blue and red glass cabochons are deeply set into mounts at salient intervals in the design. The heading is mounted upon a comb mount of blonde steer horn having three tines.
Victorian jewellery designers borrowed extensively from earlier periods and cultures. Therefore we have combs and hair ornaments in the Gothic, the Renaissance, the Algerian styles, and so-on. What this means is that the ornaments were decorated with designs which were felt to be representative of the period or culture in question. There was no attempt at authenticity, and often the ornaments show a kind of pastiche of motifs which were believed by the designer to represent the particular genre.
The term “Archaeological Revival” refers to the neo-styles of the 18th and 19th centuries inspired by excavations and discoveries of Roman, Egyptian, Hellenistic and Etruscan sites. The first revival came after excavations of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which led to the neoclassicism of the 18th century. The second revival was inspired by finds in Etruscan burial sites and affects jewelry design in the mid to later 19th century.
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