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pocket watch

Accession Number KILLM : 1961.1


Pocket watch and chatelaine owned by the novelist Fanny Burney; silver gilt with verge escarpment; Wakelin and Taylor 2270; inset with white/light blue/translucent dark blue enamel (chatelaine and keep watch) the back has a circle of split pearls containing woven hair of the royal princesses, daughters of Queen Charlotte who gave the watch to Fanny Burney; fob seal with mauve glass engraved pansy 'A VOUS'; presentation was probably made when Fanny Burney retired from her post as Second Keeper of the Wardrobe in 1791; it shows signs of wear, especially the enamel of the keys and the chain is defective; Fanny Burney mentions finding the watch undamaged when she returned to Parkis) (sic) after leaving hurriedly in 1815)

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Queen Charlotte, wife of the English King George III (1738-1820), was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. The riddle of Queen Charlotte's African ancestry was solved as a result of an earlier investigation into the black magi featured in 15th century Flemish paintings. Two art historians had suggested that the black magi must have been portraits of actual contemporary people (since the artist, without seeing them, would not have been aware of the subtleties in colouring and facial bone structure of quadroons or octoroons which these figures invariably represented) Enough evidence was accumulated to propose that the models for the black magi were, in all probability, members of the Portuguese de Sousa family. Six different lines can be traced from English Queen Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, in a gene pool which because of royal inbreeding was already minuscule, thus explaining the Queen's unmistakable African appearance. The Black characteristics of the Queen's portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate "undesirable" features in a subject's face. Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits. Ramsey was an anti-slavery intellectual of his day.

Creation Date 1790-1815
Material silver
Department Lynn Museum

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