A rare Whitby Jet carving of Saint Esprit; a dove in flight which symbolised the Holy Ghost.
The St. Esprit was a popular theme in French jewellery during the late 18th c. and throughout the 19th c. Examples were frequently set with paste stones, diamonds and pearls, the colour you would expect to see in a dove, an example made from Jet is unlikely to say the least, because of its non-conformative colour, however the influence of French style across Europe led to the motif being a popular sentimental jewel worn as a symbol of both religious piety, and affection when given as a love token.
The dove is usually depicted flying downwards with its wings outstretched and it was often accompanied by a heart which suspends from its beak, although this Jet example has the heart placed at the back.
Whitby Jet was frequently used in religious iconography for its somber and humble appearance.
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