Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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RENAISSANCE BLACKAMOOR CAMEO RING

Europe, 16th century

Agate cameo and gold

  • 8.500 €
  • £7,600
  • $10,000
  • RENAISSANCE BLACKAMOOR CAMEO RING

    Europe, 16th century
    Agate cameo and gold
    Weight 10.4 gr; circumference 55.7 mm; size US 7½; UK O½

    With the exploration of sub-Saharan Africa and the discovery of the New World, Renaissance patrons began to collect exotica from new places. Interest in people from other lands took on many forms, including the collection of images of foreign cultures. Jewelry, like the present cameo, was one way in which Europeans could display their worldliness. Cameos like this one show the various European perceptions of “the other.”

    Description
    Substantial D-section hoop, widening at the shoulders supports an oval collet set with an agate cameo. The cameo depicts an African male bust facing to the viewer’s left. The setting is modern; the cameo in perfect condition.

    Literature
    For a similar ring see British Museum 1867,0507.747 (Dalton 1915, number 220). Several other examples of African male bust cameos can be seen in the British Museum, in the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and in the Content Cameo Collection. For a similarly depicted man see The Art of Gem Engraving, no. 323. The Renaissance saw renewed interest in ancient cameo techniques and the development of new collections, such as the Medici Collection in Florence (see Tondo and Vanni 1990 and Giuliano 1989) and the Palazzo Pitti. For more on cameos in the Renaissance see Brown 1997 and Kris 1930. On Africans in cameo see Bindman and Gates 2001, p. 151-153.

     

    Reference number: 341-2

  • Agate

    Striped version of chalcedony quartz, agate forms in layers in many colors and textures by filling in an indentation or cavity in another rock and is frequently used to carve cameos.

    Birthstone

    January-Garnet: Safe travel and a speedy homecoming
    February-Amethyst: Power to overcome difficulties
    March-Jasper: Courage
    April-Diamond: Everlasting love
    May-Emerald: Love and fidelity
    June- Pearl: Purity, Celebrate a birth
    July- Ruby: Prosperity (if worn on the left hand); Everlasting love (if worn on the right)
    August-Peridot and Sardonyx: Strength and growth; Happiness in a relationship
    September-Sapphire: Sincerity and faithfulness
    October-Opal and Tourmaline: Confidence and hope
    November-Citrine and Yellow Topaz: Strength and friendship
    December-Turquoise: Protects against evil and ill health

  • Cameo

    Relief carving (a carving that comes up above the surface) on a shell or stone. In multi-colored cameos, a layered substrate is used (with two different colors), and when part of the upper layer is carved away, the second color emerges as the background.

  • 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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RENAISSANCE BLACKAMOOR CAMEO RING

Europe, 16th century
Agate cameo and gold
Weight 10.4 gr; circumference 55.7 mm; size US 7½; UK O½

USD $10,000

With the exploration of sub-Saharan Africa and the discovery of the New World, Renaissance patrons began to collect exotica from new places. Interest in people from other lands took on many forms, including the collection of images of foreign cultures. Jewelry, like the present cameo, was one way in which Europeans could display their worldliness. Cameos like this one show the various European perceptions of “the other.”

Description
Substantial D-section hoop, widening at the shoulders supports an oval collet set with an agate cameo. The cameo depicts an African male bust facing to the viewer’s left. The setting is modern; the cameo in perfect condition.

Literature
For a similar ring see British Museum 1867,0507.747 (Dalton 1915, number 220). Several other examples of African male bust cameos can be seen in the British Museum, in the collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and in the Content Cameo Collection. For a similarly depicted man see The Art of Gem Engraving, no. 323. The Renaissance saw renewed interest in ancient cameo techniques and the development of new collections, such as the Medici Collection in Florence (see Tondo and Vanni 1990 and Giuliano 1989) and the Palazzo Pitti. For more on cameos in the Renaissance see Brown 1997 and Kris 1930. On Africans in cameo see Bindman and Gates 2001, p. 151-153.

 

Reference number: 341-2

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