Clare Gibson

Clare Gibson

London, UK / Symbols enthusiast, writer and editor. Author of books on symbols, and on other subjects. http://twitter.com/MrsSymbols, http://on.fb.me/MrsSymbols and http://w
Clare Gibson
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Katherine Neville's golden heart-shaped brooch, c.1480, engraved with the words 'honour et joie' ('honour and joy'), discovered in Leicestershire. (©Hansons/BNPS)

Katherine Neville's golden heart-shaped brooch, c.1480, engraved with the words 'honour et joie' ('honour and joy'), discovered in Leicestershire. (©Hansons/BNPS)

Pisces; Psalter | France, Paris, between 1495 and 1498 | The Morgan Library & Museum

Pisces; Psalter | France, Paris, between 1495 and 1498 | The Morgan Library & Museum

The oldest surviving crown of an English queen, 1370-80. Gold, enamel, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls. Recorded in England in a list of jewels and plate drawn up in 1399. Probably belonged to King Edward III or Anne of Bohemia, the wife of King Richard II, who was deposed that year by Henry IV. Henry's daughter, Princess Blanche, married the Palatine Elector Ludwig III in 1402 and the crown passed to the Palatine Treasury in Heidelberg as part of her dowry.

The oldest surviving crown of an English queen, 1370-80. Gold, enamel, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, pearls. Recorded in England in a list of jewels and plate drawn up in 1399. Probably belonged to King Edward III or Anne of Bohemia, the wife of King Richard II, who was deposed that year by Henry IV. Henry's daughter, Princess Blanche, married the Palatine Elector Ludwig III in 1402 and the crown passed to the Palatine Treasury in Heidelberg as part of her dowry.

St Mary Magdalene (1887), Alfred Stevens; the model was the actress Sarah Bernhardt, who is depicted with two of the saint's symbolic attributes: long, flowing hair and a skull, meditated upon by hermit saints as a symbol of death and the transience of life. (Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent, Belgium)

St Mary Magdalene (1887), Alfred Stevens; the model was the actress Sarah Bernhardt, who is depicted with two of the saint's symbolic attributes: long, flowing hair and a skull, meditated upon by hermit saints as a symbol of death and the transience of life. (Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent, Belgium)

A Tödlein ('little death') ivory figure made by Christof Angermair in 1632 as a memento more; the skeletal figure is Death personified, and further symbols of death are the gravestone by which he stands and the grave-digging spade that he holds. Further symbols discernable in Angermair’s work point to a more positive Christian message of hope in the face of death, such as a circle with a dot at its centre, symbolising the sun (and life), and a lizard, once said to regain its age-related…

A Tödlein ('little death') ivory figure made by Christof Angermair in 1632 as a memento more; the skeletal figure is Death personified, and further symbols of death are the gravestone by which he stands and the grave-digging spade that he holds. Further symbols discernable in Angermair’s work point to a more positive Christian message of hope in the face of death, such as a circle with a dot at its centre, symbolising the sun (and life), and a lizard, once said to regain its age-related…

'In some areas men and women decorated pieces of straw to make ‘harvest knots’ to be exchanged as tokens of love and courtship at the harvest festival of Lúnasa in Ireland, marking the onset of August, autumn and the harvest season.' (National Museum of Ireland)

'In some areas men and women decorated pieces of straw to make ‘harvest knots’ to be exchanged as tokens of love and courtship at the harvest festival of Lúnasa in Ireland, marking the onset of August, autumn and the harvest season.' (National Museum of Ireland)

A fourth-century gold-glass base from the Jewish catacombs of Rome is a vessel base turned tomb-marker depicts a Torah Ark and certain Jewish symbols: the menorah (the seven-branched candlestick), lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron) and shofar (ram’s horn). (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

A fourth-century gold-glass base from the Jewish catacombs of Rome is a vessel base turned tomb-marker depicts a Torah Ark and certain Jewish symbols: the menorah (the seven-branched candlestick), lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron) and shofar (ram’s horn). (The Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

Italian couturier Elsa Schiaparelli's midnight-blue evening jacket, created for the summer 1937 collection; embroidered with the glyphs of the twelve zodiacal signs; other symbolic details include stardust, planets, crescent moons, comets and shooting stars, while: ‘Ursa Major, the constellation known as the Great Bear, or Big Dipper, which Schiaparelli adopted as her personal emblem in childhood, illuminates the left shoulder’. (Metropolitan Museum)

Italian couturier Elsa Schiaparelli's midnight-blue evening jacket, created for the summer 1937 collection; embroidered with the glyphs of the twelve zodiacal signs; other symbolic details include stardust, planets, crescent moons, comets and shooting stars, while: ‘Ursa Major, the constellation known as the Great Bear, or Big Dipper, which Schiaparelli adopted as her personal emblem in childhood, illuminates the left shoulder’. (Metropolitan Museum)

A depiction of Cancer, the symbol of the zodiacal crab, in the twelfth-century Shaftesbury Psalter; (Lansdowne 383   f. 5v). (British Library)

A depiction of Cancer, the symbol of the zodiacal crab, in the twelfth-century Shaftesbury Psalter; (Lansdowne 383 f. 5v). (British Library)