Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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PENDANT WITH LION RATTLE AND WHISTLE

Spain or Italy, 16th century

Silver, partially gilded silver

  • 20.400 €
  • £17,800
  • $24,000
  • PENDANT WITH LION RATTLE AND WHISTLE

    Spain or Italy, 16th century
    Silver, partially gilded silver
    Weight 86.2 grams; height with chain 240 mm; lion whistle 57 × 64 × 16 mm

    Description
    A standing lion whistle made of cast silver with gilded mane, crown, and head. He appears to blow a bosun’s whistle, and the loop under his chin probably had a bell or rattle, similar to the four enclosed bells suspended from his paws. Attached to the lion’s tail and crown are alternating chain links of flat openwork stylized strapwork and S-shaped wire links; these in turn are suspended from a gilded cherub’s head with scrolls. Below the cherub is a small gilded open-ended bell. The lion pendant has two further chain links on top with trefoil and horseshoeshaped pendant loops, originally for attaching to a belt.

    Comparisons and Literature
    Sirens are more commonplace figures on such rattles against the evil eye; cf. cat. Catalogo de la Colección de Amuletos 1945, plates XXIV XXIX; Hansmann and Kriss Rettenbeck 1999, p. 338-39, figs. 723-25; Alarcon Roman 1987, nos. 1.690, 4.815, 9.892, 10.109, 10.422; di Natale 1989, p. 235, no. 69. Designs for the rattles with lion figures are based on jeweled Renaissance pendants (Muller 2012, p. 99, figs. 162- 64). Here the material is silver, and instead of pearl pendants, bells have been attached. Lion rattles were popular in both Spain and Italy; cf. examples in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (CE 00226 00234, 00243, 00247); Museo del Pueblo Español, Madrid (Alarcon Roman 1987, p. 95, no. 9.545). See also cat. Rinkelbel and Rammelaar, no date, no. 100; Gri/Cantarutti 1988, p. 79, no. 51.100.0612; published in Art of the Curious, Colnaghi, London/Munich 2013, fig. 16, cat. no. 16.

    Reference number: 35032

  • 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

PENDANT WITH LION RATTLE AND WHISTLE

Spain or Italy, 16th century
Silver, partially gilded silver
Weight 86.2 grams; height with chain 240 mm; lion whistle 57 × 64 × 16 mm

USD $24,000

Description
A standing lion whistle made of cast silver with gilded mane, crown, and head. He appears to blow a bosun’s whistle, and the loop under his chin probably had a bell or rattle, similar to the four enclosed bells suspended from his paws. Attached to the lion’s tail and crown are alternating chain links of flat openwork stylized strapwork and S-shaped wire links; these in turn are suspended from a gilded cherub’s head with scrolls. Below the cherub is a small gilded open-ended bell. The lion pendant has two further chain links on top with trefoil and horseshoeshaped pendant loops, originally for attaching to a belt.

Comparisons and Literature
Sirens are more commonplace figures on such rattles against the evil eye; cf. cat. Catalogo de la Colección de Amuletos 1945, plates XXIV XXIX; Hansmann and Kriss Rettenbeck 1999, p. 338-39, figs. 723-25; Alarcon Roman 1987, nos. 1.690, 4.815, 9.892, 10.109, 10.422; di Natale 1989, p. 235, no. 69. Designs for the rattles with lion figures are based on jeweled Renaissance pendants (Muller 2012, p. 99, figs. 162- 64). Here the material is silver, and instead of pearl pendants, bells have been attached. Lion rattles were popular in both Spain and Italy; cf. examples in the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid (CE 00226 00234, 00243, 00247); Museo del Pueblo Español, Madrid (Alarcon Roman 1987, p. 95, no. 9.545). See also cat. Rinkelbel and Rammelaar, no date, no. 100; Gri/Cantarutti 1988, p. 79, no. 51.100.0612; published in Art of the Curious, Colnaghi, London/Munich 2013, fig. 16, cat. no. 16.

Reference number: 35032

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