To Have & To Wear

By family descent


Miniature portraits set into bracelet frames to be worn by loved ones was popularised during the eighteenth century by Queen Charlotte who was painted wearing a portrait bracelet gifted to her by the King. The tradition continued into the next century when this splendid example was created.

Set in an ornate gold frame is a portrait of a gentleman named John Peter Gassiot wearing on a ribbon round his neck a spy glass to symbolise his interests. The reverse side of the portrait is also glazed to show five locks of hair taken from the sitter’s sons, John Peter, Henry Scott, Charles, Frederick and Sebastian. The frame has chased gold clasps set with a fine braided hair strap created from the hair of his three daughters, Elizabeth, Harriet and Anne.

As a young man, John Peter Gassiot enlisted with the Royal Navy as a midshipman. Seeing what the world had to offer led him in 1822 to go into a business partnership selling cigars, sherry and port. Gassiot was also a keen horticulturist and an amateur scientist so he built himself a home laboratory where he could experiment with electricity and liaise with like-minded enthusiasts including Michael Faraday. He was a founder member of the London Electrical Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1841.

In his early twenties Gassiot married Elizabeth Scott and with her had nine sons, four not surviving childhood, and three daughters. He died at his home on the Isle of Wight in 1899, aged 78, leaving over £250,000 and a 200-page will.

The bracelet is set in the original silk- and velvet-lined fitted case and comes with a hand-written note.

Item Ref. 9070M

Size: framed portrait, 60mm high ; portrait + bracelet 205mm length

Provenance: UK Private Collection