Locket with the Four Seasons . Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.301-2008

Locket with the Four Seasons . Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.301-2008

Locket with the Four Seasons 
Enamel on gold   
Blois or Paris, France
1630-40
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.301-2008

In the workshops of Blois, Châteaudun and Paris, watches, jewellery and other small items of silver and gold were often decorated with enamelled allegorical figures. Many of the earliest portrait enamellers came from jewellery, watch-making or goldsmithing backgrounds.

One side of this locket depicts Autumn, personified as a woman in a gold cape, and Winter, an elderly man with a beard. The other side depicts Spring, a woman with a garland of flowers in her hair, and Summer, a woman with ears of corn in her hair and holding a sickle. On the inside of the lid are two peasant figures holding a lamb.

Gold, copper, silver and iron were all used as supports for enamel portrait miniatures. Copper became the most common support as it was less expensive and could be fired at higher temperatures than gold. The metal for the support was first cut into a panel, often less than 1mm thick, and then hammered to create a slightly curved surface.