Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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RENAISSANCE CAMEO RING

Italy? 16th century in a 20th century setting

Gold and sardonyx

  • 13.200 €
  • £11,900
  • $15,000
  • RENAISSANCE CAMEO RING

    Italy? 16th century in a 20th century setting
    Gold and sardonyx
    Weight 6.5 gr.; bezel 16.1 x 16.9 x 7.4 mm.; circumference 50.3 mm.; US size 5½; UK size L

    Cameos depicting nude female figures became popular in the court circles of sixteenth-century Italy, where newly-formed princely collections of ancient gems served as models for contemporary hardstone artists.  Following ancient practice, the artist responsible for the current cameo has cut into two layers of the multicolor agate, creating a background of milky blue that contrasts with the white flesh of the woman above.  The sharp profile of the woman’s face likewise recalls the art of the ancient Romans, who often used the profile view for portraits on coins, medals, and engraved gems.  Continuing admiration for all types of cameos has favored their re-mounting after their original settings were lost or fell out of fashion.  The current cameo is datable on stylistic grounds to the middle of the sixteenth century; the minimalist setting dates to the twentieth century.

    Description
    In this oblong cameo, the bust of a woman wearing a necklace but otherwise nude stands above a blue ground.  While her breast faces forward, her head is rendered in a strict profile and her hands gesture to her right.  The minimalist gold setting is modern and dates to the twentieth century.

    Literature
    For comparisons of the cameo, see the Hashimoto Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2004, 198, 199); actual location unknown (a 16th-century-unmounted cameo showing a woman's bust in profile wearing jewelry, former Harari Collection; published in Boardman and Scarisbrick, 1977, no. 188); the Kunsthistorisches Museum, KK inv. No. XII 174 (Flemish basin with precious stones and cameos; published in Distelberger, 2002, no. 139); and inv. no. K 5572 (Italian sardonyx cameo reproducing four women in profile, from the Emperor Catherine II Collection; published in Kagan, 2000, no. 217/33); for comparable 16th-century imagery in silver niello, see the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. nos. 873-1871; 874-1871; and 882-1871); and Hanns-Ulrich Haedecke Collection, Inv. Nr. NS1 (French pendant with a woman in profile; published in Haedeke, 2000, no. 284).

    Reference number: 368-3

  • Sardonyx

    Semi-precious stone that formed by two layers, a red-brown layer of sard and a gray, white, black or brown layer of onyx , sardonyx is a type of quartz . Sardonyx is frequently carved to make intricate cameos and seals .

    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 CAMEO RING

Italy? 16th century in a 20th century setting
Gold and sardonyx
Weight 6.5 gr.; bezel 16.1 x 16.9 x 7.4 mm.; circumference 50.3 mm.; US size 5½; UK size L

USD $15,000

Cameos depicting nude female figures became popular in the court circles of sixteenth-century Italy, where newly-formed princely collections of ancient gems served as models for contemporary hardstone artists.  Following ancient practice, the artist responsible for the current cameo has cut into two layers of the multicolor agate, creating a background of milky blue that contrasts with the white flesh of the woman above.  The sharp profile of the woman’s face likewise recalls the art of the ancient Romans, who often used the profile view for portraits on coins, medals, and engraved gems.  Continuing admiration for all types of cameos has favored their re-mounting after their original settings were lost or fell out of fashion.  The current cameo is datable on stylistic grounds to the middle of the sixteenth century; the minimalist setting dates to the twentieth century.

Description
In this oblong cameo, the bust of a woman wearing a necklace but otherwise nude stands above a blue ground.  While her breast faces forward, her head is rendered in a strict profile and her hands gesture to her right.  The minimalist gold setting is modern and dates to the twentieth century.

Literature
For comparisons of the cameo, see the Hashimoto Collection (published in Scarisbrick 2004, 198, 199); actual location unknown (a 16th-century-unmounted cameo showing a woman's bust in profile wearing jewelry, former Harari Collection; published in Boardman and Scarisbrick, 1977, no. 188); the Kunsthistorisches Museum, KK inv. No. XII 174 (Flemish basin with precious stones and cameos; published in Distelberger, 2002, no. 139); and inv. no. K 5572 (Italian sardonyx cameo reproducing four women in profile, from the Emperor Catherine II Collection; published in Kagan, 2000, no. 217/33); for comparable 16th-century imagery in silver niello, see the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. nos. 873-1871; 874-1871; and 882-1871); and Hanns-Ulrich Haedecke Collection, Inv. Nr. NS1 (French pendant with a woman in profile; published in Haedeke, 2000, no. 284).

Reference number: 368-3

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