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Met’s new Mourning exhibition to include jewelry

August 07, 2014

This black silk crêpe and mousseline mourning ensemble from the 1870s will be included in the Met’s upcoming exhibition, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire.”

New York--An upcoming exhibition at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will highlight the attire and accessories, including jewelry, that people in mourning donned throughout history.

Mourning jewelry, which first emerged in the 16th century but is most commonly associated with the Victorian era, pertains to pieces that people wore to symbolize that they had suffered a loss and to pay tribute to the loved one who had died.

Generally crafted in jet or another blackened material, these pieces sometimes included hair or images of the deceased enclosed in a locket.

The Met’s exhibition, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire,” was organized by the Costume Institute and will be on display at the museum’s Anna Wintour Costume Center from Oct. 21 through Feb. 1.

Specifically, it will explore the aesthetic development and cultural implications of mourning fashions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including approximately 30 clothing ensembles that will “reveal the impact of high-fashion standards on the sartorial dictates of bereavement rituals as they evolved over a century,” the Met said.

The exhibition will be organized chronologically.

“Elaborate standards of mourning set by royalty spread across class lines via fashion magazines, and the prescribed clothing was readily available for purchase through mourning ‘warehouses’ that proliferated in European and American cities by mid-century,” said Jessica Regan, assistant curator to the exhibition.