Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bird-Shaped Brooch

Date:
500–600
Culture:
Frankish
Medium:
Silver-gilt, garnets with patterned foil backings
Dimensions:
Overall: 1/2 x 1 3/16 x 1/4 in. (1.2 x 3 x 0.7 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Silver
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.191.168
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
The dress of Frankish women generally consisted of a tunic, cinched by a belt from which hung an array of pendants. A wrap or cloak went over the tunic. Shoes and hosiery, fastened with buckles, covered the legs. Earrings, necklaces, and hairpins completed the ensemble.

Aspects of this dress changed from the 300s to the 600s, and brooches in particular convey changes in taste. From the 300s to the 500s, pairs of small brooches, in an array of inventive shapes, held the wrap in place. By the 600s, a single large disc brooch, usually elaborately decorated, served the same function. No other piece of jewelry is more characteristic of Frankish dress than the brooch, and no other better demonstrates the virtuosity of Frankish metalworkers.
J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (until 1917)
Brown, Katharine R. Guide to Provincial Roman and Barbarian Metalwork and Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981. pp. 12-13, fig. 14.

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. p. 239, 348, fig. 20.22.



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