Princess Charlotte mourning pendant



This mourning jewel was commissioned in memory of Princess Charlotte of Wales, who died in 1817. The jewel contains a lock of hair and a portrait of the young princess.

At the beginning of the 19th century it was common for both men and women to wear sentimental jewellery in memory of loved ones and public figures.

Princess Charlotte mourning pendant

 

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Princess Charlotte mourning pendant

England, 1817
Portrait miniature by or after Charlotte Jones (the royal miniaturist)
Gold, enamel, diamonds and hair
Given by Dame Joan Evans
V&A: M.82-1969

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales

 

This engraving shows a full-length version of the portrait on the front of the pendant.

As the only child of the Prince Regent (later George IV), Princess Charlotte was second in line to the throne. After the disreputable behaviour of her father, many saw her as a symbol of hope. Her death in childbirth at the age of 21 instigated a period of national mourning.

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Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales

1814
Stipple engraving by John Samuel Agar
After a portrait by Charlotte Jones

National Portrait Gallery, London

 

These diagrams show the techniques involved in working human hair into the elaborate shapes that decorated sentimental jewellery. The hair was first washed, and then curled with hot tongs before being flattened.

Hair-work was regarded as a genteel occupation for young women and remained popular until late in the 19th century.

Making pictures in hair

 

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Making pictures in hair

From The Lock of Hair by Alexanna Speight (London, 1872)

National Art Library, V&A, 38041 800 426 645