Romance & Love at the V&A

Charli Carver

As February, the month of love and St Valentine’s Day, draws to a close, I wanted to share a few examples of romantic gestures that can be found on display at the V&A.

Locket, unknown maker, 1840. Museum no. M.6-1986. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Given by Gerald Harris, in memory of his wife Sylvia, this locket encapsulates a romantic gesture with its heart shaped padlock form with key. The initials of the stones which have been chosen spell out ‘REGARD’.  Woven hair can be found under a glass panel when opened up.

Snuffbox, unknown maker, 1714. Museum no: LOAN:GILBERT.314-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The top of this snuffbox bears the monogram ‘FE’ which stands for Felipe V and Elisabette Farnese. On the inside we see an image of Felipe and underneath the box is decorated with symbols of love, a burning touch a quiver of arrows a pair of doves and a flaming heart.

Young Man Among Roses, Nicholas Hillard, 1587. Museum no. P.163-1910. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The most famous of Elizabethan miniatures, it is suggested that this portrays Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth’s young favourite. Here we see him dressed in the Queen’s colours of black and white, surrounded by eglantine roses, a symbol of the Queen. Perhaps this isn’t so much as a romantic gesture but one of loyalty?

Quarries, unknown maker, 1646. Museum no. C.142:1 to 9-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The inscriptions on these nine quarries of green tinted glass are reported to be written by Charles I to his wife Henrietta Maria, on the window of his prison cell at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. One of the inscriptions reads “I am yours and only yours till death separates.”

Quarries (detail), unknown maker, 1646. Museum no. C.142:1 to 9-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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