Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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Renaissance Fede Ring

England, 1601

Gold, enamel

  • 39.000 €
  • £34,300
  • $48,000
  • Renaissance Fede Ring

    England, 1601
    Gold, enamel
    Weight 7.7 gr.; circumference 50.58 mm.; US size 5.5, UK size L

    Hearts and hands are powerful and universally understood symbols of love. The clasped hands on a ring are known as “mani in fede” taken from the Italian term meaning “hands in faith.” Given to your loved one these express trust and loyalty in a relationship. Such fede rings belong to a long tradition of betrothal and wedding rings harking back to the Ancient Romans and the Middle Ages. For a bride-to-be this motif would signify the honoring of a marriage contract or be given during the wedding ceremony.  Hearts in red enamel are more personal in their message, reflecting the affection, passion, and inner feelings of the lovers. If such rings could only tell the tale to whom they once belonged and the secrets of the one who was the recipient of such love.         

    Description:
    Gold ring with D-section, plain on the interior and lower part of the hoop on the exterior. Gold strapwork with green enamel decorate the shoulders, appearing like a sleeve to the cuff ends with opaque blue enameled ruff and gold frills. The bezel is formed of two clasped hands in opaque white enamel holding a heart with translucent red enamel. Engraved inside the hoop is the inscription in capital letters “E*C*V*B*” (initials of the couple?) and the date “1601” (of their union?). The enamel is rubbed off in parts through age and use; the ring is in good wearable condition.

    Provenance:
    6th Marquess of Bath, Henry Frederick Thynne, 6th Marquess of Bath (1905 – 1992) was a British aristocrat, landowner and politician; thence by descent.

    Literature:
    The design of this ring is unique with its provenance and date of 1601 which suggests it was made during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533 – 1603). Sir John Thynne (c. 1515-1580) was the builder of Longleat House and a member of parliament. His descendants became the Marquesses of Bath and were influential in politics. Sir Thomas Thynne (c. 1578-1639) married a gentlewoman from the Court of Elizabeth I in 1594. An early example of a fede ring of the fifteenth century with hands clasping a heart is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Church 2011, no. 12), cf. also Oman 74, plate 54.  A seventeenth century fede gimmel ring in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has instead of the enameled heart rubies symbolizing love (Scarisbrick 2003, Plate 23, 1a). Fede rings were fashionable in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

    Reference number: 877

  • Band

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

    Dextrarum junctio

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

    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.

    Enamel

    Siliceous substance fusible upon metal, either transparent or opaque and with or without color, but it is usually employed to add decorative color to metal. Enamel can be applied in many different ways, including cloisonné , champlevé , and plique à jour .

    Hoop

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

    Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

  • 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 Ring

England, 1601
Gold, enamel
Weight 7.7 gr.; circumference 50.58 mm.; US size 5.5, UK size L

USD $48,000

Hearts and hands are powerful and universally understood symbols of love. The clasped hands on a ring are known as “mani in fede” taken from the Italian term meaning “hands in faith.” Given to your loved one these express trust and loyalty in a relationship. Such fede rings belong to a long tradition of betrothal and wedding rings harking back to the Ancient Romans and the Middle Ages. For a bride-to-be this motif would signify the honoring of a marriage contract or be given during the wedding ceremony.  Hearts in red enamel are more personal in their message, reflecting the affection, passion, and inner feelings of the lovers. If such rings could only tell the tale to whom they once belonged and the secrets of the one who was the recipient of such love.         

Description:
Gold ring with D-section, plain on the interior and lower part of the hoop on the exterior. Gold strapwork with green enamel decorate the shoulders, appearing like a sleeve to the cuff ends with opaque blue enameled ruff and gold frills. The bezel is formed of two clasped hands in opaque white enamel holding a heart with translucent red enamel. Engraved inside the hoop is the inscription in capital letters “E*C*V*B*” (initials of the couple?) and the date “1601” (of their union?). The enamel is rubbed off in parts through age and use; the ring is in good wearable condition.

Provenance:
6th Marquess of Bath, Henry Frederick Thynne, 6th Marquess of Bath (1905 – 1992) was a British aristocrat, landowner and politician; thence by descent.

Literature:
The design of this ring is unique with its provenance and date of 1601 which suggests it was made during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533 – 1603). Sir John Thynne (c. 1515-1580) was the builder of Longleat House and a member of parliament. His descendants became the Marquesses of Bath and were influential in politics. Sir Thomas Thynne (c. 1578-1639) married a gentlewoman from the Court of Elizabeth I in 1594. An early example of a fede ring of the fifteenth century with hands clasping a heart is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Church 2011, no. 12), cf. also Oman 74, plate 54.  A seventeenth century fede gimmel ring in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has instead of the enameled heart rubies symbolizing love (Scarisbrick 2003, Plate 23, 1a). Fede rings were fashionable in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. 

Reference number: 877

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