Object Name: Chatelaine
Date: ca. 1761
Medium: Silver gilt, gold, enamel, ivory, chalcedony, glass, paint
Dimensions: Container: 2 1/8 × 8 1/4 × 4 3/8 in. (5.4 × 21 × 11.1 cm) Part (Chatelaine): 1 1/8 × 4 3/8 × 7 5/8 in. (2.9 × 11.1 × 19.4 cm)
(not assigned): England, London
Description: Silver gilt chatelaine hook with three chased and embossed gold plaques connected by four chains; cast hook plate embossed with scene of Mars and Venus; plaque below with scene of putto; second plaque with scene of classical warrior seated in triumphal canopy; third plaque with putto; chains suspended from sides of hook plate with attached hinged and mounted bloodstone box, shield-shaped enameled gold "R" locket with woven hair enclosed, coral trumpet charm, gold and glass oculus locket with painted flower, and painted ivory miniature in gold case; watch in gold case suspended from bottom plaque. Reverse of watchcase has chased allegorical scene of a water god with a river goddess bearing flowers.
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Edward Rutledge and daughters
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Object Number: 1954.179a-d
Marks: engraved: reverse of hook: "Henry and Cornelia Remsen / M 28 Dec. 1761" stamped: reverse of hook: "WB" engraved: reverse of miniature: "John Henry Remsen / B 2 Aug. 1772 / D 15 Sept. 1798"
A symbol of domesticity and status, this chatelaine was given to Cornelia Dickenson Remsen (1744-1816) by her husband Henry Remsen (1736-1792) as a wedding gift in 1761. Henry Remsen was a successful New York City commission merchant from one of the city's most distinguished landholding families. It is uncertain if Remsen specially ordered this chatelaine from London or purchased it from a New York jeweler. Chatelaines were suspended from clips and hung from a belt at the waist. During the early eighteenth century, when chatelaines first became fashionable for elite women, they often secured small household implements from the hooks or plaques, such as sewing scissors, thimbles, notebooks enclosed in metal cases, and watches.
Given to Cornelia Dickenson Remsen (1744-1816), who married Henry Remsen (1736-1792); to their daughter Sarah Remsen (1786-1871); to her niece Elizabeth Remsen Grafton (1824-1901); to her niece Amelia Schuchardt Stuyvesant (1839-1915); chatelaine (without watch) to her niece Julia Lawrence Wells (1868-1954) in 1891; watch purchased about 1915 by her mother Sarah Remsen Schuchardt (1841-1926) and returned to Julia Lawrence Wells; reunited chatelaine and watch to Lily Wells (Mrs. Edward Rutledge, 1873-1959), the donor.
"Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York," New-York Historical Society, New York, New York, May 4-September 23, 2012; Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, Florida, January 28-April 20, 2014.