Chatelaine with watch and pendants
Made by Wedgwood Manufactory (Staffordshire, England)
Object Place: Europe, Switzerland
Height x width x depth: 20.2 x 4.5 x 1.7 cm (7 15/16 x 1 3/4 x 11/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Gilt metal, steel, ceramic, carnelian, and glass
Not On View
During the late eighteenth century, cut-steel and gilt-metal chatelaines set with Wedgewood medallions were worn by fashionable gentlemen. This example was probably made for the coronation of Leopold II (1747-1792) as he assumed the title of King of Germany in 1790. The oval medallion on the waist hook features Minerva (Roman goddess of wisdom) placing an crown, surmounted by an eagle, on a bust of Leopold. Contemplating the bust are Mars (Roman god of war) and possibly Charitas (Roman god of generosity). Suspended from chains attached to the hook are three trinkets: an undecorated carnelian fob; a v-shaped container, possibly for snuff; and a swivel mirror in a case with an engraved hammer and anvil, symbols of force and labor. The missing pendant was in all likelihood the watch key.
The pocket watch is also decorated with a Wedgewood cameo. In this case it is the radiant head of Phoebus surrounded by festoons of blossoms and bows. Phoebus, a byname used by the classical Latin poets for the sun god (the Greek Apollo), refers to the hope for peace and enlightenment during a period of great turmoil in Europe. Unfortunately, Leopold II, who had brought peace and prosperity to Tuscany before his coronation, lived only two years, to be succeeded by Francis II.
Both bas- relief cameos are made of jasperware, a form of matte-finished pottery made in a variety of colors and introduced by Josiah Wedgewood in 1773. His invention proved enormously popular both in England and abroad. Best known wares were white-on-blue and the objects made out this material ranged from elaborately decorated vessels to ornamental buttons. Reflective of the times, classical themes abound as do miniature portrait medallions, including the well-to-do, emperors, and heads of state. According to an invoice, Wedgewood sent 186 chatelaines with cameos referencing Leopold II’s coronation to Frankfort in 1790.
The chatelaine’s waist hook features Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, placing a crown with an eagle’s crest on a bust of Leopold as two other Roman deities, Mars and possibly Charitas, contemplate it. Suspended from chains attached to the hook are three trinkets: an undecorated carnelian fob; a V-shaped container, possibly for snuff; and a swivel mirror in a case with an engraved hammer and anvil, symbols of force and labor. A fourth chain is missing its ornament, which was probably a key for the pendant watch decorated with a second Wedgwood cameo. The watch cameo depicts the radiant head of Phoebus Apollo, the sun god, encircled by a lively border of bows and blossoms.
WEDGEWOOD inside case; IO46 on watch stem
Bequest of George Washington Wales