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Fashion - Portrait Brooch

The 19th century was a time of great change in women's fashion. The century began with high waistlines and straight skirts, and by the 1850s, the style had evolved into a more natural waistline and full skirt. Adelicia Acklen's clothing choices showcase the most fashionable trends from Europe and North America during that time. Follow Belmont Mansion as we embark on a nine part series showcasing the dresses, jewelry, and fashion choices of Adelicia Acklen.

This brooch is quite unusual with it decorative fan and outstretched hand surrounding a painted portrait of Adelicia. This was most likely a piece worn by Pauline. It is hard to know whether the hand and fan have symbolic meaning or are merely decorative. However, the hand could be interpreted as symbolizing the presence of love, or peace.[1] Since most miniatures were in lockets and therefore protected, the fan may have been a design of function. The opening and closing of the fan is particularly novel and actually serves to shield the watercolor portrait from light and other elements which might have disturbed the delicate nature of the portrait.


[1] Deirdre O’Day, Victorian Jewellery rev. ed. (London: Charles Letts Books Limited, 1982): 25.

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