Object Place: Europe, France (?)
Overall: 2.3 x 0.6 x 47 cm (7/8 x 1/4 x 18 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Gilt metal and amethyst
Not On View
Five amethyst quartz; (one chain detached) “Belonged to Elizabeth Crowninshield, wife of Elias Hasket derby, Salem, Mass.” (Miss Codman)
Delicate cannetille jewelry was the height of fashion in Europe during the 1820s and 1830s. Closely related to filigree, its name derives from the coiled gold-thread embroideries on eighteenth-century military uniforms.1 The cannetille decoration in this set of jewelry is in the form of coiled-wire circles topped with alternating gold spheres and flat beads. These are soldered to an oval openwork plate composed of fine-textured wires arranged to create a lacelike effect. In the center of each bracelet and in the five graduated ovals on the necklace are pale faceted amethysts from Brazil.2 The handmade chains are wrought of lightweight strips of metal that are textured to allow for a play of light on the golden surface. The use of multiple chains on bracelets and necklaces during this period was common. In the case of neck ornaments, where typically three chains were used, the chains served as festoons when worn.
The necklace and bracelets were donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1923 by Martha Catharine Codman, a descendant of a wealthy Boston family, who married the opera singer Maxim Karolik. Together the couple amassed an important collection of early American art, which they also donated to the Museum.
Yvonne J. Markowitz, “Bracelet” in Artful Adornments: Jewelry from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston by Yvonne J. Markowitz (Boston: MFA Publications, 2011), 69.
Martha C. Codman (b. 1858 - d. 1948), Newport, RI [see note 1]; 1923, gift of Martha C. Codman to the MFA. (Accession Date: July 19, 1923)
 This was part of a set of amethysts (along with MFA accession nos. 23.283-23.284 and 64.671) that Martha Codman, later Mrs. Maxim Karolik, probably inherited from her family. According to her (handwritten note in MFA curatorial file), they had belonged to her great- great-grandmother, Elizabeth Crowninshield (b. 1736 - d. 1799) but the 19th century date of the jewelry makes this impossible.
Gift of Miss Martha C. Codman