IHS Pendant

This pendant is in the form of the sacred monogram IHS, derived from the Greek word for Jesus. To wear it was a statement of faith. But people also believed that the presence of the Holy Name close to the body would provide protection.

The use of diamonds shows the important role of the sacred monogram at this period.

IHS Pendant

 

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IHS Pendant

Northern Europe, 1580-1600
Gold with enamel and diamonds
V&A: M.248-1923

Jane Seymour, Queen of England

 

The queen wears a similar IHS pendant set in diamonds attached to the low neckline of her bodice. Contemporary portraits show that these IHS pendants were fashionable and worn by the nobility.

She was the third wife of Henry VIII and died in 1537 after giving birth to the future King Edward VI.

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Jane Seymour, Queen of England

England, about 1536-7
By Hans Holbein the Younger
Oil on panel

Gemäldegalerie, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

 

In the 17th century the IHS pendant belonged to William Howard, Viscount Stafford, who was executed in 1680 for his alleged part in a Catholic plot against Charles II.

This portrait shows his mother, Alathea, Countess of Arundel and Surrey, wearing an IHS pendant. There is a possibility that the pendant in the portrait was the one later owned by her son. It must have been dear to her since it appears more than once in portraits of the countess.

Alathea, Countess of Arundel and Surrey

 

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Alathea, Countess of Arundel and Surrey

About 1618
By Daniel Mytens
Oil on canvas

National Portrait Gallery, London
Drawing for an IHS pendant

 

This drawing, showing a similar pendant, belongs to an album from the workshop of Arnold Lulls. First recorded around 1585, Lulls later supplied the court of James I and his queen, Anne of Denmark. He died in 1621.

The survival of this drawing from the 1560s and evidence from portraits demonstrate that fashions in jewellery could continue over a long period. Often, the only clue to a precise date of a jewel lies in the details of its decoration.

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Drawing for an IHS pendant

England, about 1590
Pencil, pen and ink, wash, body-colour and gold
V&A: D.6:5-1896

Victoria & Albert Museum, London