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The Darnley or Lennox Jewel







Lennox jewell
Lennox jewell
Virtual display at Holyrood House, Edinburgh
The  Darnley or Lennox Jewel was most likely made at the instigation of Lady Lennox as a memento of her husband Matthew Stuart - but theories do vary as to why and when the jewel was made and by whom (in Scotland). 
" Probably made (c1571-78) for Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox; Horace Walpole (d.1797); by descent; sale of the contents of Strawberry Hill, George Robins, 11 May 1842 (lot 60); purchased by Queen Victoria (130 guineas)." (Royal Collection and Royal Collection Trust sites).
"Gold, enamel (émail en ronde bosse, émail basse-taille), Burmese rubies, Indian emerald, cobalt-blue glass...6.6 (7.6 with pendant loop) x 5.2 cm...Heart-shaped gold locket with polychrome enamels. Large areas of loss to the enamel on the reverse. (Royal Collection and Royal Collection Trust sites)..."
"...The heart-shaped locket, or ‘tablet’ in the language of the sixteenth century, was intended to be worn around the neck or on the breast. The complex iconography of memento mori motifs and symbols of profane and sacred love relate to the Earl and Countess’s life together - the salamander is the crest of the house of Douglas and the heart its device and three fleurs-de-lis on an azure field form the first quarter of the Lennox arms. The jewel also reveals their ambitions for their grandson, the future James VI and I and provides him with the series of admonitions.
Although it is not known where the jewel was made, such high-quality workmanship was available in Edinburgh at that time. Three Edinburgh goldsmiths are suggested as possible candidates - George Heriot, Michael Gilbert II and James Gray.
The jewel was formerly in the collection of Horace Walpole (1717-97). It was purchased by Queen Victoria at the sale of Strawberry Hill in 1842 and was listed among her private jewellery taken ‘to the Castle’ following her death in 1901..."  (Royal Collection and Royal Collection Trust sites).
The Holyrood House site in Edinburgh currently says "...The Lennox Jewel was formerly in the collection of art historian and antiquarian Horace Walpole but was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1842. The jewel is now on display to the public at Holyrood House in Edinburgh."
"...One of the most fascinating exhibits at Holyrood House is the Darnley Jewel, an enamel locket set with precious stones which Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox and Mary's mother-in-law made in the 1570's to commemorate the deaths of her husband and son. Her son, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was murdered in 1566, probably by James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who was later to become Mary's third husband. While her husband, Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox, was killed whilst acting as regent during the minority of the couple's grandson, King James VI and I...The Lennox Jewel, otherwise known as the Darnley Locket, a heart shaped locket set with precious stones, gold, enamel, Burmese rubies, Indian emerald and cobalt-blue glass was made in 1570 for Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, the mother of Lord Darnley to commemorate her husband Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox and Regent of Scotland for his grandson James VI, Lennox fell in battle in 1571..."







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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024