Loan Object
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Unknown

Memorial for Solomon and Joseph Hays

1801

Watercolor, pearls, gold wire, beads, and locks of blond and brown hair (natural, chopped, and dissolved) on ivory; on reverse, blond and brown hair plaid and gold cipher

1 7/8 × 1 13/16 in. (4.8 × 4.6 cm)
Promised bequest of Davida Tenenbaum Deutsch and Alvin Deutsch, LL.B. 1958, in honor of Kathleen Luhrs
ILE1999.3.21

Allegorical miniatures were so pervasive as tokens of bereavement that, despite their association with Christian belief, some Jewish families also commissioned them—including the Hays family, who were founding members of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City. This double memorial perpetuates the memory of two infants, Solomon and Joseph Hays, who died in 1798 and 1801, respectively. The records of Congregation Shearith Israel, largely concerned with practical issues, pause in 1798, the year of Solomon’s death, to lament the human cost of a citywide scarlet fever epidemic. Solomon may have been one of its victims.

The boys probably were the sons of Jacob Hays (1772‒1849), New York’s chief of police from 1802, the year after Joseph’s death, to 1849. Solomon’s blond hair forms the abstracted willow on the left; Joseph’s brown hair, the one on the right. Chopped and cut blond hair fills the earth below Solomon’s monument and the urn above; brown hair defines Joseph’s place of rest. On the reverse, the brothers’ locks plaited together unite them forever beneath their conjoined initials. The circular shape of the memorial evokes the continuity of familial affections.

Geography: 
Possibly made in New York City, New York, United States
Status: 
Not on view
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Miniatures - Jewelry
Provenance: 

E. Grosvenor Paine by purchase; Davida Tenenbaum Deutsch and Alvin Deutsch, LL.B. 1958, by purchase; Yale University Art Gallery by promised bequest

Bibliography: 

Marcia Pointon, Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewelry (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009), 292, ill.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 69, pl. 47.

Howard B. Rock, Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654–1865 (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 285.

Howard B. Rock, Deborah Dash Moore, and Diana L. Linden, Haven of Liberty: New York Jews in the New World, 1654-1865 (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 285.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.