Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring

BLACK LETTER POSY SAUNS DE PARTIER

England, 15th century

Gold

sold
  • BLACK LETTER POSY SAUNS DE PARTIER

    England, 15th century
    Gold
    Weight 1.7 gr; circumference 50 mm; US size 5¼; UK size K

    Rings inscribed on the exterior with Gothic script (“black letter rings”), like the present example, appear to originate in the thirteenth century when the flowering of knightly culture, specifically courtly love, prompted gifts or love tokens as expressions of the passion of a knight for his lady. Prevalent from the thirteenth through the fifteenth century, these rings are not only engraved with short amatory mottos on the exterior, and filled with niello, but also often ornamented with floral sprays.  Both French and English examples exist, although it is thought that such rings were for the most part of English origin, French being the language of love in the later Middle Ages.  Now we routinely group these rings with “posy” rings, from the word poésie (for poetry), thus taking their name from English literature.  This ring is inscribed on the exterior in black letter between floral sprays: “sauns de partier” meaning literally “without leaving” or “undying” or “eternal.” 

    Provenance:  Benjamin Zucker, New York; on deposit, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1985–2013.

    Reference number: 622

  • Posy

    From “poesie” for poetry, a posy ring is one with an inscription usually on the interior of the band and was especially popular in Elizabethan and Tudor England.

  • Gothic

    With the rise of towns and the establishment of a money economy in western Europe, the fabrication of rings grew into an urban trade. In 1180, the Goldsmith's Company was founded in London, and in 1200, Jean de Garlande describes the craftsmen setting jewels into rings on the Grand Pont in Paris. Certain new types of rings evolved and were commercially made in large numbers for all levels of society. In France in 1283, then in London in 1337, 1363, and 1463, and elsewhere, sumptuary laws were passed forbidding townspeople from wearing precious stones, but it is unlikely these regulations were strictly observed.

    Medieval rings are typically set with uncut but polished stones (called cabochons) because the stone itself was considered God's creation, not to be altered artificially by man. For the same reason, there was a taboo about the mixing of colors in the workshops of painters and their assistants. Two types of rings abound in the Gothic era. The first is the stirrup ring, made in the shape of a horse's stirrup and nearly always set with a cabochon sapphire. Many of these have been discovered in the tombs of the bishops for whom they were made. The second is the tart mold ring, adorned with different precious stones in a box or circular setting the underside of which resembles a pie plate. Other types of rings also proliferate: for example, nominative rings with circular inscriptions used for sealing, black letter rings with amatory sayings on the bands, iconographic rings with standing figures of saints that served to protect the wearer, etc. Claw and box settings both occur in Gothic rings, but eventually the claw setting naturally evolves into the most popular late Gothic type of gemstone ring, the cusped ring, in which the collet consists of decorated lobes between the remnants of claws. It is this type of ring that continues into the early Renaissance and occurs in Gerard David's painting.

    An art history of medieval rings has yet to be written (see, however, Hindman et al., 2007), but a few preliminary observations can nevertheless be made. The streamlined form of the stirrup ring, arching upward to the bezel that forms an integral part of it, recalls the aesthetic of the unification of the wall in Gothic cathedrals with the ribs springing seamlessly to the arched vaults. Tart mould rings take inspiration from the architectonic forms of capitals and their bases. The ridged bezel of the iconographic ring adorned with standing saints in niello reiterates in miniature format the closed wings of a painted altarpiece, its figures painted in grisaille. Iconographic rings, as well as other devotional types of rings, find their parallels in the suffrages, or prayers of protection to special saints that accompany Books of Hours.

BLACK LETTER POSY SAUNS DE PARTIER

England, 15th century
Gold
Weight 1.7 gr; circumference 50 mm; US size 5¼; UK size K

Rings inscribed on the exterior with Gothic script (“black letter rings”), like the present example, appear to originate in the thirteenth century when the flowering of knightly culture, specifically courtly love, prompted gifts or love tokens as expressions of the passion of a knight for his lady. Prevalent from the thirteenth through the fifteenth century, these rings are not only engraved with short amatory mottos on the exterior, and filled with niello, but also often ornamented with floral sprays.  Both French and English examples exist, although it is thought that such rings were for the most part of English origin, French being the language of love in the later Middle Ages.  Now we routinely group these rings with “posy” rings, from the word poésie (for poetry), thus taking their name from English literature.  This ring is inscribed on the exterior in black letter between floral sprays: “sauns de partier” meaning literally “without leaving” or “undying” or “eternal.” 

Provenance:  Benjamin Zucker, New York; on deposit, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1985–2013.

Reference number: 622

Posy

From “poesie” for poetry, a posy ring is one with an inscription usually on the interior of the band and was especially popular in Elizabethan and Tudor England.

Gothic

With the rise of towns and the establishment of a money economy in western Europe, the fabrication of rings grew into an urban trade. In 1180, the Goldsmith's Company was founded in London, and in 1200, Jean de Garlande describes the craftsmen setting jewels into rings on the Grand Pont in Paris. Certain new types of rings evolved and were commercially made in large numbers for all levels of society. In France in 1283, then in London in 1337, 1363, and 1463, and elsewhere, sumptuary laws were passed forbidding townspeople from wearing precious stones, but it is unlikely these regulations were strictly observed.

Medieval rings are typically set with uncut but polished stones (called cabochons) because the stone itself was considered God's creation, not to be altered artificially by man. For the same reason, there was a taboo about the mixing of colors in the workshops of painters and their assistants. Two types of rings abound in the Gothic era. The first is the stirrup ring, made in the shape of a horse's stirrup and nearly always set with a cabochon sapphire. Many of these have been discovered in the tombs of the bishops for whom they were made. The second is the tart mold ring, adorned with different precious stones in a box or circular setting the underside of which resembles a pie plate. Other types of rings also proliferate: for example, nominative rings with circular inscriptions used for sealing, black letter rings with amatory sayings on the bands, iconographic rings with standing figures of saints that served to protect the wearer, etc. Claw and box settings both occur in Gothic rings, but eventually the claw setting naturally evolves into the most popular late Gothic type of gemstone ring, the cusped ring, in which the collet consists of decorated lobes between the remnants of claws. It is this type of ring that continues into the early Renaissance and occurs in Gerard David's painting.

An art history of medieval rings has yet to be written (see, however, Hindman et al., 2007), but a few preliminary observations can nevertheless be made. The streamlined form of the stirrup ring, arching upward to the bezel that forms an integral part of it, recalls the aesthetic of the unification of the wall in Gothic cathedrals with the ribs springing seamlessly to the arched vaults. Tart mould rings take inspiration from the architectonic forms of capitals and their bases. The ridged bezel of the iconographic ring adorned with standing saints in niello reiterates in miniature format the closed wings of a painted altarpiece, its figures painted in grisaille. Iconographic rings, as well as other devotional types of rings, find their parallels in the suffrages, or prayers of protection to special saints that accompany Books of Hours.

You might also like

  • JEWISH WEDDING RING

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • Medieval Knot Ring

    France, 15th century

  • Gimmel Fede Ring with Inscription “GAGE D’AMITIE”

    Probably England, c. 1750

  • “LOVE” Ring by Robert Indiana

    United States, 1969

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe (Hungary?), 19th century

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “Not the value but my love”

    England, late 17th - early 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “BOVND * BY * FATHE +”

    England, late 16th century

  • Posy Ring, “I chuse never to change”

    England, 17th century

  • Posy Ring, “No riches to content”

    England, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “THE GYFT OF A FRIND”

    England, late 16th – 17th century

  • Posy Ring, “Hearts United live Contented”

    England, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “Gods intent none can prevent”

    England, 18th century

  • Memorial Ring, “Remember EP”

    England, early 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “A true friends gift”

    England (Plymouth ?), first half of 18th century

  • Gold Ring with a Cruciform Monogram and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with the Standing Virgin and Child and Openwork Band

    Early Byzantine, late 7th-early 8th century

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Virgin and Child and Inscription

    Byzantine Empire, 6th-7th century AD

  • Masquerade Ring

    Western Europe, Italy, c. 1760

  • Posy Ring, "I long to have but blush to crave"

    England, 17th century

  • Gold Ring Franciscus South miles

    England, 17th century