Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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RENAISSANCE CAMEO RING

Italy, cameo: second half of 16th century in a late 18th century ring

Gold, agate , black enamel

  • 7.700 €
  • £7,000
  • $9,000
  • RENAISSANCE CAMEO RING

    Italy, cameo: second half of 16th century in a late 18th century ring
    Gold, agate , black enamel
    Weight 6.3 gr.; bezel 18.8 x 16.9 x 6.5 mm.; circumference 58.4 mm.; US size 8¾; UK size R

    In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries young women were often represented as a female bust, sometimes nude or scantily draped in a suggestive pose. Here the gem-cutter has taken advantage of a taupe patch in the stone to give the impression of a veil-like cover of the woman’s torso. The cameo dates to the second half of the sixteenth century when Italy was the center for gem-cutting on hardstones, mainly in the north around Milan. The ancient art of gem-engraving was revived and gems from Antiquity became sought after collector’s items. In the late eighteenth century there was a new wave of interest in engraved gems, and earlier cameos were either kept in cabinets or set in contemporary jewels, such as this ring.

    Description
    Cameo of a nude female bust in frontal view with the head slightly turned in three quarter profile. With her left hand she reaches under her breasts towards the drapery which barely covers her right shoulder. With her raised right hand she grips a veil in her hair tied with a fillet. The ring with a plain hoop has a bezel with ribbed underside and a scalloped border with black enamel surrounds the cameo. The ring is in good condition and shows traces of wear.

    Provenance
    The Ceres Collection, New York, a collection of cameos and intaglios formed between the 1930’s to 1990’s.

    Literature
    This popular cameo motif comes in a number of variations and choice of gemstones in the 16th and 17th centuries. Examples can be found in the Staatliche Münzsammmlung Munich (published in Ingrid S. Weber, Geschnittene Steine aus altbayerischem Besitz, Kameen und Intaglien des 15. bis 17. Jahrhunderts in der Staatlichen Münzsammlung, München 2001, nos. 48 - 65) and in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (Kirsten Piacenti Aschengreen and John Boardman, Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London 2008, nos.  156-161) and in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (published in Distelberger, 2002, no. 139). 

    For comparisons of the ring type, see the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, vol. 2, nos. 1177; 1194; 1221; 1229).

    Reference number: 602

  • 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 CAMEO RING

Italy, cameo: second half of 16th century in a late 18th century ring
Gold, agate , black enamel
Weight 6.3 gr.; bezel 18.8 x 16.9 x 6.5 mm.; circumference 58.4 mm.; US size 8¾; UK size R

USD $9,000

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries young women were often represented as a female bust, sometimes nude or scantily draped in a suggestive pose. Here the gem-cutter has taken advantage of a taupe patch in the stone to give the impression of a veil-like cover of the woman’s torso. The cameo dates to the second half of the sixteenth century when Italy was the center for gem-cutting on hardstones, mainly in the north around Milan. The ancient art of gem-engraving was revived and gems from Antiquity became sought after collector’s items. In the late eighteenth century there was a new wave of interest in engraved gems, and earlier cameos were either kept in cabinets or set in contemporary jewels, such as this ring.

Description
Cameo of a nude female bust in frontal view with the head slightly turned in three quarter profile. With her left hand she reaches under her breasts towards the drapery which barely covers her right shoulder. With her raised right hand she grips a veil in her hair tied with a fillet. The ring with a plain hoop has a bezel with ribbed underside and a scalloped border with black enamel surrounds the cameo. The ring is in good condition and shows traces of wear.

Provenance
The Ceres Collection, New York, a collection of cameos and intaglios formed between the 1930’s to 1990’s.

Literature
This popular cameo motif comes in a number of variations and choice of gemstones in the 16th and 17th centuries. Examples can be found in the Staatliche Münzsammmlung Munich (published in Ingrid S. Weber, Geschnittene Steine aus altbayerischem Besitz, Kameen und Intaglien des 15. bis 17. Jahrhunderts in der Staatlichen Münzsammlung, München 2001, nos. 48 - 65) and in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (Kirsten Piacenti Aschengreen and John Boardman, Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London 2008, nos.  156-161) and in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (published in Distelberger, 2002, no. 139). 

For comparisons of the ring type, see the Alice and Louis Koch Collection (published in Chadour 1994, vol. 2, nos. 1177; 1194; 1221; 1229).

Reference number: 602

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