Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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JEWISH WEDDING RING WITH MINIATURE BUILDING

Central or Western Europe, 19th century

Gold and enamel

sold
  • JEWISH WEDDING RING WITH MINIATURE BUILDING

    Central or Western Europe, 19th century
    Gold and enamel
    Weight 10.7 gr; circumference 57 mm; US size 8; UK size P½

    The motif of two hands unified as a dextrarum iunctioa gesture symbolizing the acceptance of the marriage contract, dates back to Roman times;  it became fashionable again in Western Europe during the Renaissance and continued  to be popular into the nineteenth century. The symbolism of clasped hands or a heart on a betrothal or wedding ring is a Western European tradition, but  the clasping of an architectural structure is an iconographic feature characteristic of Jewish marriage rings. On either side of the hoop forming the shoulder of this ring is a hand in opaque white ronde bosse enamel. Both hands clasp the bezel, which is shaped like a small castle with rectangular ground plan but curved on the underside to conform to the finger when worn. The windows are alternately square and arched. Four coarsely formed lion heads appear on all four side walls, rather like gargoyles.

    Provenance: Melvin Gutman (1886–1967); Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 15, 1970, Part V, lot 110, as “German Renaissance … late 16th century”; Benjamin Zucker, New York; on deposit, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1985–2013.

    Reference number: 617

  • Dextrarum junctio

    Motif known since antiquity of two hands clasped in faith, also called “fede” and symbolizing the union of marriage.

  • Later

    It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

    This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

    Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

JEWISH WEDDING RING WITH MINIATURE BUILDING

Central or Western Europe, 19th century
Gold and enamel
Weight 10.7 gr; circumference 57 mm; US size 8; UK size P½

The motif of two hands unified as a dextrarum iunctioa gesture symbolizing the acceptance of the marriage contract, dates back to Roman times;  it became fashionable again in Western Europe during the Renaissance and continued  to be popular into the nineteenth century. The symbolism of clasped hands or a heart on a betrothal or wedding ring is a Western European tradition, but  the clasping of an architectural structure is an iconographic feature characteristic of Jewish marriage rings. On either side of the hoop forming the shoulder of this ring is a hand in opaque white ronde bosse enamel. Both hands clasp the bezel, which is shaped like a small castle with rectangular ground plan but curved on the underside to conform to the finger when worn. The windows are alternately square and arched. Four coarsely formed lion heads appear on all four side walls, rather like gargoyles.

Provenance: Melvin Gutman (1886–1967); Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, May 15, 1970, Part V, lot 110, as “German Renaissance … late 16th century”; Benjamin Zucker, New York; on deposit, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1985–2013.

Reference number: 617

Dextrarum junctio

Motif known since antiquity of two hands clasped in faith, also called “fede” and symbolizing the union of marriage.

Later

It is virtually impossible to do justice to the evolution of jewelry from the Baroque period (c. 1700) to Modern times in a short synopsis, but these are a few highlights. Many of the functional aspects of finger-rings continued: they served for betrothal and marriage, for signing and family identification, for memorial purposes, as well as for pure ornament. However, some new types of rings emerge during this period: such as puzzle rings, gimmick rings, perfume rings, and rings that celebrated scientific achievements (e.g., watch rings) are but a few of the examples.

This time span witnesses the emergence of the “archaeological style,” of which the work of Fortunato Pio Castellani in the 1830s to 1860s is a particularly well-known example, one that fits in the Neo-Classical period. We see the flourishing of other styles related to artistic movements in painting, sculpture, and architecture. These include Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement, both beginning around the 1880s, and Art Deco in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. It also covers the emergence of some of the most famous twentieth-century houses of jewelry, such as Cartier, Charmet, Boucheron, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Mellerio, to mention only a few. Jewelry historians responsible for exhibitions in major museums have begun to trace the historical contributions and characterize the styles of jewelry, including rings, not only of these different artistic movements, but also of these great houses.

Two other sometimes-overlapping categories of later jewelry are of significant import. The first category, “artist jewelry,” consists of jewelry by artists mostly known for their work in other media, such as Picasso, Calder, Dali, Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois, Yves Klein, Anish Kapoor, and many others. The second category, “studio jewelry” includes work by modern and contemporary goldsmiths. Among those practicing today of special mention are Wendy Ramshaw and others belonging to the Goldsmith’s Company in London, dedicated to continuing the craft since it received its first royal charter in 1327. Others of different national origins include the Italian Giovanni Corvaja (handled by Adrian Sassoon in London), the American Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR of Paris (whose international exhibition was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2013), Otto Jakob of Germany, and the newcomer Wallace Chan of China. The experienced viewer-collector, as well as the newcomer to the field, can begin to learn about modern jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston with its dedicated jewelry gallery and specialized curator, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which houses the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, and the private collection of Alice and Louis Koch.

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