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Stella Maris Memento Mori Pendant

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Mourning Jewelry43 of 114Mourning Portrait Miniature of Young GirlBlack mystery brooch with c- clasp
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (103 items)

    Unusual memento mori pendant for lives lost at sea - a watercolor miniature on parchment, under crystal and set to a gold pendant, circa 1720. The miniature is of Stella Maris, protectress of mariners and seafarers. She is portrayed in her lapis blue robe covered in golden stars and wearing a golden starburst crown. The skull, urn and crucifix in the scene symbolize souls lost at sea. The pendant measures 3 cm by 3.8 cm [ 1 and 1/4 inches by 1 and 1/3 inches].

    Stella Maris is an aspect of the Christian Virgin Mary as spiritual guide. She is called Mary, Star of the Sea, and protects those who make their living on the oceans such as mariners and seafarers. She is shown on a lunar crescent wearing a starry crown, Her typical iconography, which likely references Revelations 12:1 of the Bible, which describes "a woman... with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of 12 stars." The moon of course also connects Her with the sea and its tides.

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    1. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      A beautiful thing, and such a finely painted miniature, amazing that the pictures above are more than double actual size.
    2. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 6 years ago
      I've never seen the Virgin Mary depicted this way in any "aspect." Cite some primary source materials with links, pls?
    3. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Hello Katherine -- here is a good write-up by the University of Dayton:

      And from Wikipedia:,_Star_of_the_Sea
    4. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 6 years ago
      I know about Mary Star of the Sea, and Stella Maris. But I've never seen the Virgin Mary, in any aspect, depicted as the figure is in the brooch. Again, I would be curious to see any primary source material to authenticate your claim.
    5. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      I was given this attribution when I purchased this piece. I will check back with the seller for more information.
    6. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 6 years ago
      Hi Katherine, we should remember that this miniature was painted at a period when many of the ideas and beliefs that took root in the Renaissance were still current.

      Take for example Botticelli's well known "Birth of Venus" showing the naked goddess Venus emerging fully grown from a scallop shell. The quote below is from near the end of this article:

      These essentially pagan readings of Botticelli's Birth of Venus should not exclude a more purely Christian one, which may be derived from the Neoplatonic reading of the painting indicated above. Viewed from a religious standpoint, the nudity of Venus suggests that of Eve before the Fall as well as the pure love of Paradise. Once landed, the goddess of love will don the earthly garb of mortal sin, an act that will lead to the New Eve – the Madonna whose purity is represented by the nude Venus. Once draped in earthly garments she becomes a personification of the Christian Church which offers a spiritual transport back to the pure love of eternal salvation. In this case the scallop shell upon which this image of Venus/Eve/Madonna/Church stands may be seen in its traditionally symbolic pilgrimage context. Furthermore, the broad expanse of sea serves as a reminder of the Virgin Mary's title stella maris, alluding both to the Madonna's name (Maria/maris) and to the heavenly body (Venus/stella). The sea brings forth Venus just as the Virgin gives birth to the ultimate symbol of love, Christ.

    7. Bluboi Bluboi, 6 years ago
      Hi Katherine. My seller is on vacation but she will check with her source and get back to me. I will update when I hear from her.
    8. Elisabethan Elisabethan, 2 years ago
      What a beautiful piece and interesting conversation to follow.
    9. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 2 years ago
      really, really nice piece!
    10. cameosleuth cameosleuth, 7 months ago
      This is a rather free adaptation of the much copied painting by Correggio of Mary Magdalen Reading.

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