Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Fede Ring

Probably Italy, 16th century

Gold

  • 13.400 €
  • £11,500
  • $15,000
  • Fede Ring

    Probably Italy, 16th century
    Gold
    Weight 3.3 gr.; circumference 55.76; US size 7.5, UK size P

    Fede” rings showing two clasped hands “mani in fede” symbolize the pledge of marriage during the wedding ceremony during which the hands of the married couple are joined as a sign of their union. The name derives from the Italian term for faith or trust. Rings with this motif made of gold, silver or bronze or even carved in hardstone as cameos go back to the Ancient Romans. They described this legal act as “dextrarum iunctio” the joining of the right hands. In Medieval Europe this decorative device of the hands clasped in trust is found on betrothal rings and ring brooches given as a token of love. The popularity of the “fede” motif continued during the Renaissance period and beyond, often these would be in gimmel form and include the marriage vow. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century many variations of the design were developed, and the hands often hold a crowned heart, as even today the Irish Claddagh rings.       

    Description:
    Gold ring with a slender D-section hoop, is plain on the interior and exterior. The hoop ends have the shape of a capital with scrolls. The engraved lines would have originally been enameled. The bezel is formed of two right hands joined together as an open sculptural form with cuffed sleeves. The ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Such rings were very popular and appear in a number of variations. For the type with similar designs, cf. examples in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick and Henig, 2003, pp. 48, 49, pl. 15, n. 4); Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (Lambert, 1998, p. 75, n. 59); Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour, 1994, vol. I, nos. 728 - 730); Hashimoto Collection of the National Museum of Western art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 166-168) and the Griffin Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Hindman and Miller 2015, no. 41).

    Provenance:
    The ring was found buried in the ground in the Campania region of Italy and remained in the family for many years.

    Reference number: 802

  • Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    Fede

    From the Italian for “faith” or “trust” fede rings are symbolic rings shaped in the form of two clasped hands. Such rings were popular in ancient Rome as betrothal rings and again throughout Europe from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries.

    Dextrarum junctio

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

    Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

  • 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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Fede Ring

Probably Italy, 16th century
Gold
Weight 3.3 gr.; circumference 55.76; US size 7.5, UK size P

USD $15,000

Fede” rings showing two clasped hands “mani in fede” symbolize the pledge of marriage during the wedding ceremony during which the hands of the married couple are joined as a sign of their union. The name derives from the Italian term for faith or trust. Rings with this motif made of gold, silver or bronze or even carved in hardstone as cameos go back to the Ancient Romans. They described this legal act as “dextrarum iunctio” the joining of the right hands. In Medieval Europe this decorative device of the hands clasped in trust is found on betrothal rings and ring brooches given as a token of love. The popularity of the “fede” motif continued during the Renaissance period and beyond, often these would be in gimmel form and include the marriage vow. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century many variations of the design were developed, and the hands often hold a crowned heart, as even today the Irish Claddagh rings.       

Description:
Gold ring with a slender D-section hoop, is plain on the interior and exterior. The hoop ends have the shape of a capital with scrolls. The engraved lines would have originally been enameled. The bezel is formed of two right hands joined together as an open sculptural form with cuffed sleeves. The ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Such rings were very popular and appear in a number of variations. For the type with similar designs, cf. examples in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick and Henig, 2003, pp. 48, 49, pl. 15, n. 4); Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (Lambert, 1998, p. 75, n. 59); Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour, 1994, vol. I, nos. 728 - 730); Hashimoto Collection of the National Museum of Western art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 166-168) and the Griffin Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Hindman and Miller 2015, no. 41).

Provenance:
The ring was found buried in the ground in the Campania region of Italy and remained in the family for many years.

Reference number: 802

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