Victorian hair plume palette work brooch with seed pearls and curled wire work, circa 1870. Found on the Morning Glory Antiques website.
On Friday, September 30 at 8pm, the Observatory in New York presents Erotic Death in Victorian Art and Fashion, an illustrated lecture with Professor Deborah Lutz.
The Victorians had a different relationship to the dead body and dying than we do today. Painters in the late-Romantic style created beautiful men and women ravaged by death; they depicted dying as a moment of climax and aesthetic perfection. Locks of hair were snipped from the corpse and woven into jewelry: a form of mourning that revered the body and its parts, even after death. Body-part stories told of the deep desire to possess the pieces of the famous dead. We will look at some of these paintings and objects, with a view toward recuperating this willingness to dwell with loss itself, to linger over the evidence of death’s presence woven into the texture of life. This lecture is present by Morbid Anatomy
Deborah Lutz is an Associate Professor at Long Island University, C.W. Post. Her first book—The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative—traces a literary history of the erotic outcast. Her second book—Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism—explores mid-Victorian sexual rebellion. She is currently working on a book about the materialism of Victorian death culture and “secular relics”: little things treasured because they belonged to the dead.