Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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AMULET PENDANT WITH FIGA

Spain, c. 1620–1630

Jet, silver, and enamel

  • 18.900 €
  • £16,900
  • $22,000
  • AMULET PENDANT WITH FIGA

    Spain, c. 1620–1630
    Jet, silver, and enamel
    Weight 60.7 grams; dimensions 85 × 49 × 18 mm

    Description
    Large pendant in the shape of a hand carved from jet with a clinched fist in the figa (Spanish higa) gesture. In the palm of the hand is a heart carved in relief and on the back a six-ray star in a circle. The silver mount covers the wrist like a cuff and is decorated with a frilled border, and on the front with collet-set bosses with silver C-scrolls against blue enamel; on the back is a roundel in relief with floral motif. Domed base for the pendant loop in pea-pod form.

    Comparisons and Literature
    The closest example for the jet hand is in the Museo Arquelógico Nacional, Madrid (Franco Mata 1986, p. 159, figs. 29-30, first half seventh century). For the more stylized hand with figa, cf. no. 9 and Franco Mata 1986, pp. 158-62; Roman 1987, pp. 27-28. Further for the use of jet in Spain, see Muller 1987, pp. 101-12. The blue enameled boss suggests a date for the pendant around 1620 to 1630; this ornamental motif can be found in sacred and secular silver and is described as the austere style of Philip II (1527-1598), though more prevalent under Philip III and IV; see Oman 1968, pp. xxviii-xxxi, figs. 237-45, all dated about 1620-30.

    Reference number: 35035

  • Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

  • Renaissance & Baroque

    Considerable evidence exists concerning the making and wearing of rings in the Renaissance. Their appearance in painted portraits confirms that they continued to be worn on multiple fingers, suspended from chains and ribbons, sewn onto sleeves or hats, and so forth. When not worn they were sometimes stored on parchment rolls or in neatly compartmentalized boxes, known from documents and paintings. In the Renaissance, the medieval practice of using uncut stones was abandoned in favor of faceting; table-cut facets were among the earliest and most popular, but other cuts rapidly followed. Making rings that would show off best the qualities of the stone became a skill that exercised the virtuosity of cutters, chasers, engravers, enamellers, and goldsmiths sometimes in collaboration. The highly sculpturesque quality of most Renaissance and Baroque rings can be compared with the striving for greater veracity that characterizes the monumental arts of this period.

    By far the most common type of ring from the Renaissance was the boxed bezel set with faceted stones in highly ornate geometric bezels with intricate articulated shoulders, sometimes with protruding volutes, the whole richly enameled. Surviving drawings for rings by sixteenth-century goldsmith-designers Etienne Delaune, Pierre Woeiriot, and René Boyvin record variations on this type. Often reviving classical subjects and motifs, numerous cameos and intaglios also date from this era, produced under illustrious, often princely, patronage. By the sixteenth century the careers of famous gem-cutters can be reconstructed; they include Valerio Belli, Alessandro Cesati, Alessandro Masnago, and Francesco Torino. However, few Renaissance cameos and intaglios appear in their original mounts, because they were often made not as rings but rather as virtuoso carvings, kept in drawers in cabinets and taken out and admired by Renaissance princes.

    During Elizabethan and Tudor times in England, commonplace books (the earliest dated 1596) were used by goldsmiths and their customers to provide appropriate inscriptions for rings. References to posy rings (from “poésie” or poetry) abound in literature of the period; for example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet (III, ii, 162): “Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring.” The discovery of the New World also wrought changes in the evolution of rings, as it did for painting, because new stones became available. The newly prized diamond, expensive then as now, was often imitated by the similarly favored rock crystal. Extensive surviving pictorial evidence is useful because it contributes to a more precise dating and localization of rings from this era.

     

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  • ring
ring

AMULET PENDANT WITH FIGA

Spain, c. 1620–1630
Jet, silver, and enamel
Weight 60.7 grams; dimensions 85 × 49 × 18 mm

USD $22,000

Description
Large pendant in the shape of a hand carved from jet with a clinched fist in the figa (Spanish higa) gesture. In the palm of the hand is a heart carved in relief and on the back a six-ray star in a circle. The silver mount covers the wrist like a cuff and is decorated with a frilled border, and on the front with collet-set bosses with silver C-scrolls against blue enamel; on the back is a roundel in relief with floral motif. Domed base for the pendant loop in pea-pod form.

Comparisons and Literature
The closest example for the jet hand is in the Museo Arquelógico Nacional, Madrid (Franco Mata 1986, p. 159, figs. 29-30, first half seventh century). For the more stylized hand with figa, cf. no. 9 and Franco Mata 1986, pp. 158-62; Roman 1987, pp. 27-28. Further for the use of jet in Spain, see Muller 1987, pp. 101-12. The blue enameled boss suggests a date for the pendant around 1620 to 1630; this ornamental motif can be found in sacred and secular silver and is described as the austere style of Philip II (1527-1598), though more prevalent under Philip III and IV; see Oman 1968, pp. xxviii-xxxi, figs. 237-45, all dated about 1620-30.

Reference number: 35035

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