Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Renaissance Fede Gimmel Ring

Western Europe, late 16th century

Gold, enamel

  • 20.300 €
  • £17,900
  • $25,000
  • Renaissance Fede Gimmel Ring

    Western Europe, late 16th century
    Gold, enamel
    Weight 5.8 gr.; circumference 53.82 mm.; US size 6 3/4; UK size N ½

    The joining of two right hands is symbolic of the union between two loved ones wishing to unite and spend years of happiness together. The motif is emblematic of the exchange of rings in promise of marriage or reflecting the vows between bride and bridegroom during a ceremony. Also known as “mani in fede,” the Italian term for hands in trust, express faith and loyalty to one another, a tradition harking back to the Ancient Romans and the Middle Ages in Europe. Interlocking double hoops of such gimmel rings (Latin: gemmelus for twin) deepens the symbolism of such betrothal or marriage rings and the message inscribed within the hoops “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Rings like this were fashionable in Renaissance and Baroque Europe and the marriage vow can be found in various languages, such as Latin, Italian, English, French, German or Dutch.                     

    Description:
    The gold ring consists of two separate rounded hoops which interlock. Two hands with scrollwork decorated cuffs in opaque white and translucent blue enamel are soldered onto the hoops, when closed, these are clasped.  Hidden inside one hand is a heart of translucent red enamel. Engraved on the interior of the two hoops is the Latin inscription in capital lettering: “QVOD DEUS CONIVNXIT / HOMO NON SEPARET.” The enamel is missing in parts through age, but the ring is in good wearable condition.

    Literature:
    Similar fede gimmel rings with inscribed marriage vows in different languages can be found in the Hashimoto Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 169, cf. also variants nos. 170, 223, 224); the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick and Henig 2003, Plate 23, 1a); British Museum, London (1959,0209.40) and Museum of London (62.121/10). An exceptional and more ornate example with three hoops is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Church 2011, fig. 46). For variations of Renaissance fede gimmel rings see examples in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, nos. 705. 727- 735).

    Reference number: 874

  • Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    Fede

    From the Italian for “faith” or “trust” fede rings are symbolic rings shaped in the form of two clasped hands. Such rings were popular in ancient Rome as betrothal rings and again throughout Europe from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries.

    Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Dextrarum junctio

    Motif known since antiquity of two hands clasped in faith, also called “fede” and symbolizing the union of marriage.

  • 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 Fede Gimmel Ring

Western Europe, late 16th century
Gold, enamel
Weight 5.8 gr.; circumference 53.82 mm.; US size 6 3/4; UK size N ½

USD $25,000

The joining of two right hands is symbolic of the union between two loved ones wishing to unite and spend years of happiness together. The motif is emblematic of the exchange of rings in promise of marriage or reflecting the vows between bride and bridegroom during a ceremony. Also known as “mani in fede,” the Italian term for hands in trust, express faith and loyalty to one another, a tradition harking back to the Ancient Romans and the Middle Ages in Europe. Interlocking double hoops of such gimmel rings (Latin: gemmelus for twin) deepens the symbolism of such betrothal or marriage rings and the message inscribed within the hoops “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Rings like this were fashionable in Renaissance and Baroque Europe and the marriage vow can be found in various languages, such as Latin, Italian, English, French, German or Dutch.                     

Description:
The gold ring consists of two separate rounded hoops which interlock. Two hands with scrollwork decorated cuffs in opaque white and translucent blue enamel are soldered onto the hoops, when closed, these are clasped.  Hidden inside one hand is a heart of translucent red enamel. Engraved on the interior of the two hoops is the Latin inscription in capital lettering: “QVOD DEUS CONIVNXIT / HOMO NON SEPARET.” The enamel is missing in parts through age, but the ring is in good wearable condition.

Literature:
Similar fede gimmel rings with inscribed marriage vows in different languages can be found in the Hashimoto Collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Scarisbrick 2004, no. 169, cf. also variants nos. 170, 223, 224); the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Scarisbrick and Henig 2003, Plate 23, 1a); British Museum, London (1959,0209.40) and Museum of London (62.121/10). An exceptional and more ornate example with three hoops is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Church 2011, fig. 46). For variations of Renaissance fede gimmel rings see examples in the Alice and Louis Koch Collection, Swiss National Museum, Zurich (Chadour 1994, nos. 705. 727- 735).

Reference number: 874

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