Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Iconographic Ring

England, c. 1450-1500

Silver gilt

  • 8.400 €
  • £7,400
  • $9,500
  • Iconographic Ring

    England, c. 1450-1500
    Silver gilt
    Weight 6.9 gr.; circumference 60.98 mm.; US size 9 1/2; UK size S ¾

    Jewelry in the Middle Ages was worn not only for adornment or as a sign of status and authority. It also had an enduring personal meaning and would accompany its owner through the various stages of life.  Saints symbols of faith were invoked for protection against the dangers in every day experiences, such as illness and natural disaster and for good fortune. So-called iconographic rings, a term coined by Victorian ring collectors, were popular in the fifteenth century and mainly in England. These were made of gold, rarely of silver, and the religious imagery included Christ and the Virgin Mary, and featured Saints, whose powers were called upon. Favorite saints were Barbara, Christopher, Catherine, John the Baptist, and Margaret. These were occasionally accompanied by romantic inscriptions suggesting that such rings were also worn as wedding rings, or good wishes and gifted at New Year.            

    Description:
    Silver gilt ring plain on the interior and on the exterior is central ridge dividing the hoop into two grooves. Two engraved full-length figures, possibly the Virgin Mary and Joseph, form the bezel and on the shoulders are four flower sprigs on each side. The gilding is in parts slightly rubbed off through age and wear. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

    Literature:
    For similar iconographic rings with two panels, see examples in the following collections: British Museum (Dalton 1912, no. 741); Victoria and Albert Museum (683-1871, M.211-1975); the Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Collection (Haedeke 2000, nos. 245 and 246); the Hashimoto Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 132 and 133); the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. 1, no. 588) and Scarisbrick 2007, no. 187. For the type, cf. Scarisbrick 1993, p. 23 and Oman 1964, pp. 54-6 with plates 66 A,B,D).

    Reference number: 892

  • Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

  • 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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Iconographic Ring

England, c. 1450-1500
Silver gilt
Weight 6.9 gr.; circumference 60.98 mm.; US size 9 1/2; UK size S ¾

USD $9,500

Jewelry in the Middle Ages was worn not only for adornment or as a sign of status and authority. It also had an enduring personal meaning and would accompany its owner through the various stages of life.  Saints symbols of faith were invoked for protection against the dangers in every day experiences, such as illness and natural disaster and for good fortune. So-called iconographic rings, a term coined by Victorian ring collectors, were popular in the fifteenth century and mainly in England. These were made of gold, rarely of silver, and the religious imagery included Christ and the Virgin Mary, and featured Saints, whose powers were called upon. Favorite saints were Barbara, Christopher, Catherine, John the Baptist, and Margaret. These were occasionally accompanied by romantic inscriptions suggesting that such rings were also worn as wedding rings, or good wishes and gifted at New Year.            

Description:
Silver gilt ring plain on the interior and on the exterior is central ridge dividing the hoop into two grooves. Two engraved full-length figures, possibly the Virgin Mary and Joseph, form the bezel and on the shoulders are four flower sprigs on each side. The gilding is in parts slightly rubbed off through age and wear. The ring is in good wearable condition.   

Literature:
For similar iconographic rings with two panels, see examples in the following collections: British Museum (Dalton 1912, no. 741); Victoria and Albert Museum (683-1871, M.211-1975); the Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke Collection (Haedeke 2000, nos. 245 and 246); the Hashimoto Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, nos. 132 and 133); the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, vol. 1, no. 588) and Scarisbrick 2007, no. 187. For the type, cf. Scarisbrick 1993, p. 23 and Oman 1964, pp. 54-6 with plates 66 A,B,D).

Reference number: 892

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