In the nineteenth century like today, flowers had deep meanings universally understood in society. In this brooch, the hair is shaped into various stylized flowers. The forget-me-nots at the top and the chrysanthemum at bottom right denote true love. The marigold at top right is for grief and the zinnia at top left represents absence. The bottom left blossom could be a lily, a symbol of majesty. On the reverse is a photographic portrait of John Martin, who settled in Cincinnati in 1856. The style of brooch suggests it was a token of love, but the flowers imply it may have been a mourning piece. With no inscriptions, the original intent is unknown.

Show lessRead more
  • Title: Brooch
  • Date Created: 1850
  • Location: Australia (mount), United States (hairwork)
  • Physical Dimensions: 3 x 2 3/4 x ¾ in. (7.6 x 7 x 1.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mary Witherwick
  • Accession Number: 1936.691
  • Medium: gold, glass, hair, mother of pearl, seed pearls, hand-colored photograph