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PROPERTY FROM THE LATE DR WILLIAM LINDSAY GORDON COLLECTION
Portrait miniatures of Charles I, Charles II, and William III set in rings and mounted in pendants during the 17th and 18th Centuries remain fascinating symbols of Royalist and Parliamentarian loyalties during the period.
17th Century: Royal Compensation to Civil War Commemoration
In the years preceding the Civil War, rings, lockets and slides set with portrait miniatures of Charles I were distributed by Henrietta Maria as compensation for those who lent money to the Royalist cause. In the aftermath of the King's execution in 1649, these political tokens gained further significance for his supporters, as both an expression of sorrow and of hopes for the restoration of the monarchy under the future Charles II (D. Scarisbrick, Rings, Jewellery of Love and Loyalty, London, 2007, p. 188). During the Restoration, Charles II continued to employ miniaturists as a powerful propagandist tool by commissioning portraits, which he distributed as royal awards (C. Oman, British Rings 800-1914, London, 1974, p. 66).
18th Century: Hanoverian Politics and Hereditary Rights
Many 17th Century miniatures were passed through the generations and remounted in the 18th Century by Jacobites, who continued to wear rings and pendants set with portraits of Stuart monarchs as badges of political loyalty. The image of Charles I, with his eyes turned towards the heavens against a celestial blue ground resonated particularly with Jacobites who lamented the martyred King's death; while miniatures of William III were popular with those loyal to the Protestant accession (D. Scarisbrick, op. cit., pp. 190-191). In the aftermath of the uprisings of 1715 and 1745, these pendants and rings continued to be worn by Tories as a declaration of support for the hereditary rights of the Crown (D. Scarisbrick, Historic Rings: Four Thousand Years Craftsmanship, London, 2004, p. 117). In their artistry and varied history these commemorative objects thus encapsulate both a tradition of royal image-making and of political debate.