Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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DIPTYCH PENDANT WITH VIRGIN AND CHILD AND CRUCIFIXION SCENE

Probably Germany (Lower Rhine?), late 14th century

Gilded silver, mother of pearl, ivory

  • 34.000 €
  • £30,100
  • $40,000
  • DIPTYCH PENDANT WITH VIRGIN AND CHILD AND CRUCIFIXION SCENE

    Probably Germany (Lower Rhine?), late 14th century
    Gilded silver, mother of pearl, ivory
    Weight 10.4 grams; dimensions 34 × 24 × 9 mm (with loop), 27 × 24 × 9 mm (without loop)

    Description
    The rectangular diptych consists of a gilded silver frame with grooved sides and plain outer panels of mother of pearl. The two panels are hinged and when opened reveal two finely carved scenes in pierced ivory against a dark red parchment background. On the left wing, the Virgin with Christ Child and St. Margaret of Antioch are standing; on the right is the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist.

    Provenance
    Collection of James Frederick Hutton (1826-1890), Manchester, United Kingdom; then Böhler-Blumka Gallery, New York, in 2012.

    Comparisons and Literature
    For a diptych with similar frame and mother of pearl backing, cf. a work in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Williamson/Davies 2014, no. 156; for stylistically similar figures, see no. 155). Williamson/Davies suggest the style of the carving points to Germany rather than France, and that the London diptych was probably made in Cologne or another Lower Rhenish center. Other examples for the carvings are cited, in the Rothschild Collection in Waddesdon Manor and in the Museo de Historia, Valencia. The present work published in Williamson/Davies 2014, p. 454, fig. 1, in relation to no. 155; and in exh. cat., Collecting Treasures of the Past VII, Böhler-Blumka Gallery, New York, 26 January-10 February 2012, no. 20.

    Reference number: 30109

  • 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

DIPTYCH PENDANT WITH VIRGIN AND CHILD AND CRUCIFIXION SCENE

Probably Germany (Lower Rhine?), late 14th century
Gilded silver, mother of pearl, ivory
Weight 10.4 grams; dimensions 34 × 24 × 9 mm (with loop), 27 × 24 × 9 mm (without loop)

USD $40,000

Description
The rectangular diptych consists of a gilded silver frame with grooved sides and plain outer panels of mother of pearl. The two panels are hinged and when opened reveal two finely carved scenes in pierced ivory against a dark red parchment background. On the left wing, the Virgin with Christ Child and St. Margaret of Antioch are standing; on the right is the Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist.

Provenance
Collection of James Frederick Hutton (1826-1890), Manchester, United Kingdom; then Böhler-Blumka Gallery, New York, in 2012.

Comparisons and Literature
For a diptych with similar frame and mother of pearl backing, cf. a work in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Williamson/Davies 2014, no. 156; for stylistically similar figures, see no. 155). Williamson/Davies suggest the style of the carving points to Germany rather than France, and that the London diptych was probably made in Cologne or another Lower Rhenish center. Other examples for the carvings are cited, in the Rothschild Collection in Waddesdon Manor and in the Museo de Historia, Valencia. The present work published in Williamson/Davies 2014, p. 454, fig. 1, in relation to no. 155; and in exh. cat., Collecting Treasures of the Past VII, Böhler-Blumka Gallery, New York, 26 January-10 February 2012, no. 20.

Reference number: 30109

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