In Death Lamented features rings, bracelets, brooches, and other pieces of mourning jewelry from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, ranging from early gold bands with death’s head iconography to jeweled brooches and intricately woven hairwork pieces of the Civil War era. These elegant and evocative objects are presented in the context of their history, use, and meaning, alongside related pieces of material culture.
Drawn from the collections of the MHS and Guest Curator Sarah Nehama as well as loans from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Historic New England in Boston, and the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, exhibition highlights include the Adams-Winthrop commemorative seal ring containing the braided hair of John Quincy Adams and a gold memorial ring for Queen Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach.
A full-color companion book, In Death Lamented: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry, available for sale at the MHS, features photographs and descriptions of all of the Nehama and MHS pieces, along with historical and stylistic backgrounds and essays pertaining to cultural practices around death and mourning in England and America.
View a selection of mourning jewelry at www.masshist.org/features/mourning-jewelry.