Tuesday, March 11, 2008


'One must face death in order to cherish life.'

The topic of death for some is morbid and not one they wish to discuss. For others that do genealogy, research provenance on antiques, etc. it is part of the journey.

To the Victorians it was recognized, symbolized and honored. Death was such a stark reality from birth that the 18th and 19th centuries found ways to cope with and endure one's passing.

Queen Victoria herself upon the death of her beloved Prince Albert, made it fashionable and respectful. She paid homage to him by wearing widow's weeds (mourning clothes) for the rest of her life. So sacred was he to her that on her deathbed the Queen's face was draped in the Honiton lace veil she had worn on her wedding day. It remained with her into the afterlife.

A lock of hair from a child or a lover was often placed in a locket and worn close to the heart. Postmortem tintypes or miniatures were also commonplace, allowing one's image to be remembered forever.

Buttons, jewelry, hair ornaments, sewing kits all made in shades of black were worn and used out of respect for the period of time that society had deemed.

In today's world we are not restricted by such protocol. We do though honor, cherish and love forever those who have gone before us.

Shown above: Mourning mirror 1866, hair jewelry(brooch), Victorian memorial dome with stuffed birds and locks of childrens' hair tied with silk ribbon. All from my personal collection.


Christine LeFever said...

A lovely tribute to death, Susan. I do love the mourning pictures along with many of the mementos equated with those who've passed; your mourning mirror and other treasures are remarkable.

I was even amazed to learn that some people, especially children, were exhumed so that a portrait could be made of them.


Britt-Arnhild said...

Oh, what a beautiful dome.

Thanks fpr your words about death. Made me reflect.

Suzanne said...

Being a painter of "dead people"(as my son says), this was an intriguing post Susan. Mourning jewelry, pen and ink, and watercolor memoriums (especially of little children) seem such a sad thing....but would have been a sweet reminder of the loved one. Thanks for sharing from your collection.

Lori said...

what an interesting collection Susan, thanks for sharing with us!

rochambeau said...

Thank you for beautiful post Miss Maddie! Like you, I believe it is important to honor death. It seems like we live in a society that wants to pretend that death is not a part of life. That is why I appreciate the holiday in Mexico, The Day Of the Dead, where people take the time to reflect and remember those they've loved that have passed on. I was lucky not to loose my life when I was a teenager. It changed me forever to appreciate this life, and to work on not fearing death.

Once again, this post is appreciated.


Lea said...

This is beautiful... especially in the expression of remembering and honoring. In spirit of the door theme, for me, to be able to embrace death as a part of life creates a door that is always accessible and open, so that the loved ones are cherished and kept close to heart...

Miss Sandy said...

Very interesting history, I've heard of jewelry being made out of the hair of a deceased loved one and mourning jewelry but not taking their portraits.

I stopped in to catch up and to extend an invitation to join in a blog event I am hosting on Thursday, March 20, 2008, An Easter Parade, celebrating the first official day of Spring and Easter. A give away will be held in conjunction with the event. For full details, see todays blog post. I hope to see you there!

Sea Angels said...

Hello Susan, what a thought provoking post, one of beauty too, a real reminder of those who have gone ahead, and that we can only pray and hope, that some day those beloved one's will be there, smiling to meet us, arm's held wide, for us to fall into.
Hugs Lynn xx

softinthehead said...

I found this post absolutely fascinating. I was directed to your blog from Doreen and I am very grateful to her for it. You have a gift with the pen. I enjoy your blog tremendously! Pam

Lana said...

I can always expect an interesting and enlightening post from you when I visit. Lovely items in your collection Susan.

aisha's diary said...

hi every one,
its me aisha,surly a new name for all reading this blog.actually the painting painted by words about death has made me think and share my view about death. i feel that death is door to eternity where the horses of love, care and kind deeds seem to stop but actually such small but caring deeds make our life peaceful and death calm.
its a path which takes ous to our beloved to embrace as Emily Dickins says the horses of eternity take her with care to her beloved.if you have done something good in your life then no fear of death.
do write me what you feel

sa said...