Chatelaine with watch and portraits

Chatelaine with gold watch and enamel portraits, Switzerland, ca. 1785
Use
Fashion Item
Content
Lock of hair
Year
1785

Chatelaines have been in use since at least the eighth century. Worn at the belt, they enable women to carry their possessions without the need for a bag or pocket.

They have also, at various points in history, been seen as fashion items, as can be seen with this object. Made in Geneva in the 1780s, it is decorated with cut steel and enamel portraits. The portrait on the watch appears to be by a different artist, suggesting it may have had a memorial function. In the centre hangs a gold fob watch that bears the mark of Henri Valentin, with its winding key hanging to the left. Unlike its more functional counterparts, this tiny chatelaine (only 15cm long) has two seals and a tiny shell-shaped container which would have held a lock of hair.

 
On permanent display in the Museum of Bags.

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