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Dominique Provost
©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

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Dominique Provost
©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

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Dominique Provost
©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

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©DIVA, Museum voor Edelsmeedkunst, Juwelen en Diamant Antwerpen  

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A type of jewellery known as the Flemish heart consists of a heart-shaped part with a diamond at the centre, surmounted by a trophy, which can take the form of a crown or – as here – a trophy consisting of a burning torch, a quiver and a bow. The trophy refers to the attributes of the god of love Cupid and symbolizes the victory of love. Variations consisting of both trophy and crown are few and far between. According to some jewellery historians, the central diamond is the symbol of the heart of Mary herself. Flemish hearts are among the most widespread items of Flemish jewellery and most frequently found in family jewellery boxes. At the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries there was a tradition of children giving their mother a Flemish heart on her birthday or on Mothering Sunday. This tradition spread widely from Antwerp all over the Southern Netherlands. The exact meaning of the Flemish heart is unknown. We do know that this type of jewel was also gifted to the church. The Flemish hearts seem to have had their origin in the devotion of the Flemish people to Mary, which spread widely especially from Antwerp in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The city-on-the-Scheldt first expressed its bond with the Virgin Mary as its protectress in the twelfth century.