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 (American), London and New York (until 1917)
Ricci, Seymour de. Catalogue of a Collection of Gallo-Roman Antiquities Belonging to J. Pierpont Morgan. Paris: C. Berger, 1911. no. 168, p. 27, pl. VIII.

Die Vogelfibeln der germanischen Völkerwanderungszeit. Bonn: L. Röhrscheid, 1939. no. 45, p. 71, pl. 6.

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.

Sutton, Denys, ed. Treasures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: French Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Yokohama: Yokohama Museum of Art, 1989. no. 1, p. 61.

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.

Related Objects

Ewer of Zenobius

Artist: Date: 700s
Accession Number: 17.190.1704
Date: 700s Medium: Silver, partial-gilt Accession: 17.190.1704 On view in:Gallery 301

Crossbow Brooch

Artist: Date: ca. 430
Accession Number: 1995.97
Date: ca. 430 Medium: Gold Accession: 1995.97 On view in:Gallery 301

Open-Ring Brooch

Artist: Date: early 800s
Accession Number: 1981.413
Date: early 800s Medium: Silver, cast and partially gilded; amber cabochons Accession: 1981.413 On view in:Gallery 301

Crossbow Brooch

Artist: Date: early 400s
Accession Number: 2001.303
Date: early 400s Medium: Cast copper alloy with silver inlay Accession: 2001.303 On view in:Gallery 301

Bird-Shaped Brooch

Artist: Date: 500–600
Accession Number: 17.191.168
Date: 500–600 Medium: Silver-gilt, garnets with patterned foil backings Accession: 17.191.168 On view in:Gallery 301