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Jewelry set with miniature paintings

1953.42A-E (RS196486)


Jewelry set consisting of a pair of bracelets, earrings and brooch all featuring miniatures paintings on ivory set in gold and surrounded by a row of diamonds. One bracelet clasp miniature depicts Joseph Barrell and his wife Sarah and daughter Hannah standing under the word "Enjoyment," the other depicts Joseph Barrell standing next to an urn under the words "I seek the end." One earring depicts Charles, Henry and George Barrell under the word "Expectation," and on the other depicts Samuel, John and Sarah Barrell under the word "Innocence." The brooch depicts a dying woman and man trying to fend off Death surrounded by the words "We must submit / it's hard to part."


"Cherished Possessions": London jeweler Stephen Twycross made this set of jewelry for Bostonian Joseph Barrell to give to his daughter Hannah, perhaps on the occasion of her marriage in 1797. Barrell was one of Boston's wealthiest residents, described by contemporaries as “a man of uncommon taste.” The brooch is a memorial to Hannah's mother, who died twenty years earlier. The earrings show her six stepbrothers. One of the bracelet clasps shows Hannah with her father and stepmother. The other shows Barrell leaning on a funerary urn with the words “I seek the end.” Although he was to live another eight years, Barrell was apparently already thinking about his mortality.
Twycross, Stephen, ca. 1754-ca. 1822 (Goldsmith)
ca. 1796
Brooch Front: "WE MUST SUBMIT" Brooch Reverse: engraved "Barrell / ob 20 Feb. / 1777 / At 24"; painted on reverse of ivory "HB" Bracelet Clasp: "ENJOYMENT" Bracelet Clasp: "I SEEK THE END" Earring: "INNOCENCE" Earring; "EXPECTATION" (Painted and engraved)
Location of origin
London, England
diamond (mineral)
freshwater pearl
gold (metal)
ivory (tooth component)
silver (metal)
Object type
London (Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
Descriptive terms
commemorative jewelry
diamond (mineral)
freshwater pearl
gold (metal)
ivory (tooth component)
Set, Jewelry
silver (metal)
3/4 x 1/2 x 1/2 (HxWxD) (inches)
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Francis Gray
Exhibition Notes
"Hidden Treasures from Elegant Eras," Historic Jewelry from the Collections of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities presented by Shreve, Crump & Low, September 15 - November 30, 1995. "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, July 2003 to October 2005. "Jewelry at Historic New England," Online exhibit presented by Historic New England launched September 30, 2007 at
Reference Notes
Pictured in Brierley, Sarah, "With this Ring I Thee Wed," Historic New England, Fall (2007): 16. The best sources of information about this set are by Carlisle, Nancy, "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," (2003); and by Fales, Martha Gandy, "Federal Bostonians and their London Jeweler, Stephen Twycross," Antiques, 131, no. 3 (March 1987): 642-649; "Stephen Twycross, London Jeweller, and His American Patrons," Jewellery Studies, no. 6 (1993): 37-41; and "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900," (1995): 86-92. On Joseph Barrell, see Fales, Dean A., "Joseph Barrell's Pleasant Hill," Transactions of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (1956-1963) 43 (1966): 373-390. For an overview of miniature paintings in New England, see Shusan, Elle, "Tokens of Sorrow: New England Portrait Miniatures and Mourning Jewelry," in The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England, ed. D. Brenton Simons and Peter Benes (2002): 127-143; and Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900," (1995): 83-97.
Related Items
Title Shoe Buckles Accession number 1953.41 Notes Jewelry and related items donated by Miss Frances Gray:
Title Jewelry Set Accession number 1953.42
Notes Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has two pairs of bracelet clasps made by Stephen Twycross (23.286-289). Massachusetts Historical Society has two mourning rings and a brooch attributed to Stephen Twycross. Worcester Arts Museum has a chatelaine and jewelry set made by Stephen Twycross.