The origin of Backamoor jewelry goes back to the ancient Venetian artistry of highly crafted jewelry, international travel and the interest in the luxurious exotic trade that was occurring in the 18th Century. There have been many periods of Blackamoor jewelry revival, but it is believed that the interest in depicting "moors" derives from the commercial relations that the Venetians had with African-Arabs circa 1750-1800. The Italian bourgeois wore these incredibly crafted and unusual pieces of jewelry as a way to show their social status, their knowledge and exposure to the Mediterranean and thus international world of trade. Also, these elaborate pieces were considered amulets. Today, these Blackamoor pieces are rare works of art, and highly collectible pieces of jewelry with a complicated and oftentimes confused history. Blackamoor jewelry is also known as Venetian Morretto jewelry because it was made in Venice, Italy, where Europe's most highly regarded artists lived and worked.
Blackamoors can be found in history as decorative art pieces, and these had a revival period in the Deco era, alongside Orientalist representations of exotic bodies. This representation of moors or African slaves is very different from the originals. The early Blackamoor pieces vary from the highly ornamental or insensitive pieces that they later inspired. Georgian pieces such as this one are considered real gems.
This Blackamoor brooch is incredible in its artistry, history and design. It features a central figure made in gilded silver with black enamel, wearing a white and green enameled turban. Two daggers cross behind him, and the daggers form an X-shape. The handle of the daggers are incredibly made, decorated with three repeating heads, also painted with white, black and blue enamel. The center of the daggers is decorated with a wine red garnets that are approximately 1.5 mm in size. The brooch measures approximately 1-13/4 by 1 inch. The figures are remarkable, so tiny and so well rendered, with spectacular details. The enamel work is excellent and in good condition. The pin of the brooch is also silver and gilded like the rest. This piece is in excellent condition, especially for its age. A rare find and a wonderful piece to add to a jewelry collection. Circa 1840. Hallmarked on the clasp.