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Brooch with miniature portrait of Elizabeth W. Gilbert

1932.224 (RS203356)


This gold rectangular brooch is set with a miniature portrait on ivory of a baby holding a silver coral and bells (1932.225). The child wears a pink dress with a wide neck and short, gathered sleeves. The portrait is set under beveled glass. The back is inscribed with the child's name and the date (see inscriptions). The brooch closed with a hinged pin and C-hook. It also has a loop on the reverse for suspension as a pendant.


In 1839 ten-month-old Elizabeth Gilbert sat for her portrait clutching her rattle, also called a "coral and bells" for its coral handle and delicate bells suspended around a silver whistle. One hundred years later her niece gave both Elizabeth's miniature, mounted in gold as a brooch, and her coral and bells to Historic New England. Elizabeth is portrayed in a typical baby dress of the early nineteenth century, cut wide across the neck with puffed short sleeves. The ivory upon which her portrait is painted gives her skin a translucent quality. The artist signed his or her work with only initials, making identification difficult. It might have been George Munger, a Connecticut miniature painter, or his sister Caroline Munger (Mrs. H. B. Washburn). Both Elizabeth and her niece Grace were born into a wealthy family of Boston bankers. Each became a teacher.<br/>
inscribed on verso
"E. W. Gilbert Aged 10 mos 1839" (Engraved)
"C M
"CM" or "GM" (in watercolor at lower right-hand corner)
Location of origin
gold (metal)
ivory (tooth component)
miniatures (paintings)
watercolor (paint)
Object type
Boston (Suffolk county, Massachusetts)
Massachusetts (United States)
Descriptive terms
gold (metal)
ivory (tooth component)
miniatures (paintings)
pins (jewelry)
watercolor (paint)
1 3/4 x 1 5/16 x 3/8 (HxWxD) (inches)
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Miss Grace Gilbert
Exhibition Notes
"Jewelry at Historic New England," Online exhibit presented by Historic New England launched September 30, 2007 at
Reference Notes
For more information on portrait jewelry see Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America, 1600-1900," (1995): 220-222.
Related Items
Title String of carved beads Accession number 1932.150 Notes Jewelry and related items donated by Miss Grace Gilbert:
Title Combination locket and brooch Accession number 1932.224
Title Silver baby's rattle (same pictured in 1932.224) Accession number 1932.225
Title c - Watch with case and keys Accession number 1932.226 a
Title Pendant Accession number 1932.233
Title Onyx mosaic earrings Accession number 1939.142 ab
Title c - Coral brooch and earrings Accession number 1939.143 a
Title c - Coral brooch and earrings Accession number 1939.144 a
Title Rattle Accession number 1932.225