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Watson Gordon Lecture Series 2018; Heart’s Desire: The Darnley Jewel and the Human Body

Watson Gordon Lecture Series 2018; Heart’s Desire: The Darnley Jewel and the Human Body


The Watson Gordon Lecture 2018

Through a magnificent 16th-century jewel, the author, Cynthia Hahn, traces the history of the metaphor of the human heart.

The Darnley jewel, a masterpiece of the goldsmith’s art on display at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace, has been deemed a love token, but has also been labelled an emblem of political ambition. Taking the shape of a heart, the jewel was produced at a moment (1565-75) when such objects worn by courtiers were a primary means of asserting status and proclaiming allegiances.

With a deep medieval history - originally the fleshly power centre of the human body, the seat of the soul, and place of memory and emotion - the heart has many aspects to offer. This book shows how the understanding of the heart changed during the Middle Ages, from spiritual locus of the body, to source of devotion to country, and finally, to the font of love and sentimentality.


The Watson Gordon Lectures, established in 2006, typify the long-standing collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Each lecture is by a leading scholar and reveals new research on a focused topic. The lectures are delivered and published annually; this will be the twelfth in the series.

  • Size 21.5 x 16.5 cm
  • Format Hardback
  • Page count 48pp
  • Illustrations 25 colour
  • Publisher National Galleries of Scotland
  • ISBN 9781911054375
  • Authors Cynthia Hahn
Available for purchase when we can dispatch safely

100% of all profits support the National Galleries of Scotland