Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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CRUCIFIX PENDANT WITH INSTRUMENTS OF THE PASSION

France, c. 1650

Gold, enamel, rubies, pearls

  • 23.100 €
  • £20,700
  • $27,000
  • CRUCIFIX PENDANT WITH INSTRUMENTS OF THE PASSION

    France, c. 1650
    Gold, enamel, rubies, pearls
    Weight 3.9 grams; 49 × 28 × 15 mm (with later loop)

    Description
    Double-sided cross made of gold with painted enamel and three pearl pendants. On the front, Christ is depicted on the cross with the INRI titulus against a white background. The peapod-shaped cross ends are surmounted by rubies in box settings with white enameled foliate surround. Painted on the reverse are the Instruments of Passion with the Column of the Flagellation and cock surrounded by chalice, gloves, sword and lance, and shirt. Painted on the cross ends are Veronica’s Veil, dice, jug and basin, and the Crown of Thorns. The pendant loop in peapod form is original; the gold shell pendant loop is a later addition.

    Comparisons and Literature
    The finely painted enamels, the pastel colors, and the delicate peapod design of the cross ends with black dots on white enamel are in the French style, as was en vogue in many parts of Europe in the mid-seventeenth century. It is thus often difficult to establish a provenance. A similar depiction of Christ on the cross occurs on a pendant in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in which the front is gem-set with topazes (inv. no. 213-1864, Spanish, 1680-1700). A related cross pendant in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim (inv. no. 1969/170) with Crucifixion and Instruments of the Passion in enamel is thought to be French. For an elaborately enameled reverse of a cross pendant with the Instruments of Passion and gem-set with diamonds, see Scarisbrick/ Vachaudez/Walgrave 2008, pp. 132-33. Similar foliate settings and peapod ornaments in white enamel with black dots can be found on a locket with a portrait of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614-62), who was governor of the Spanish Netherlands; see Scarisbrick 2011, pp. 88-89, figs. 90-91.

    Reference number: 35027

  • 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

CRUCIFIX PENDANT WITH INSTRUMENTS OF THE PASSION

France, c. 1650
Gold, enamel, rubies, pearls
Weight 3.9 grams; 49 × 28 × 15 mm (with later loop)

USD $27,000

Description
Double-sided cross made of gold with painted enamel and three pearl pendants. On the front, Christ is depicted on the cross with the INRI titulus against a white background. The peapod-shaped cross ends are surmounted by rubies in box settings with white enameled foliate surround. Painted on the reverse are the Instruments of Passion with the Column of the Flagellation and cock surrounded by chalice, gloves, sword and lance, and shirt. Painted on the cross ends are Veronica’s Veil, dice, jug and basin, and the Crown of Thorns. The pendant loop in peapod form is original; the gold shell pendant loop is a later addition.

Comparisons and Literature
The finely painted enamels, the pastel colors, and the delicate peapod design of the cross ends with black dots on white enamel are in the French style, as was en vogue in many parts of Europe in the mid-seventeenth century. It is thus often difficult to establish a provenance. A similar depiction of Christ on the cross occurs on a pendant in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in which the front is gem-set with topazes (inv. no. 213-1864, Spanish, 1680-1700). A related cross pendant in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim (inv. no. 1969/170) with Crucifixion and Instruments of the Passion in enamel is thought to be French. For an elaborately enameled reverse of a cross pendant with the Instruments of Passion and gem-set with diamonds, see Scarisbrick/ Vachaudez/Walgrave 2008, pp. 132-33. Similar foliate settings and peapod ornaments in white enamel with black dots can be found on a locket with a portrait of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm (1614-62), who was governor of the Spanish Netherlands; see Scarisbrick 2011, pp. 88-89, figs. 90-91.

Reference number: 35027