Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
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  • ring

THESE PLAYFUL SCULPTED DOGS ARE SYMBOLS OF FIDELTY MUCH LIKE THE DOG FOUND IN JAN VAN EYCK’S FAMOUS ARNOLFINI WEDDING PORTRAIT

Western Europe, likely Italy, mid-16th c.

Gold and traces of black and white enamel

  • 5.500 €
  • £4,900
  • $6,500
  • THESE PLAYFUL SCULPTED DOGS ARE SYMBOLS OF FIDELTY MUCH LIKE THE DOG FOUND IN JAN VAN EYCK’S FAMOUS ARNOLFINI WEDDING PORTRAIT

    Western Europe, likely Italy, mid-16th c.
    Gold and traces of black and white enamel
    Bezel 15 x 3 x 4 mm.; circumference 42 mm.; weight 2.7 gr.; US size 2 ¼; UK size D ½

    The imagery of two dogs, facing each other and evidently sharing a piece of wood or a bone suggests the idea of fidelity, either in friendship or love.  This ring is typical of a class of Italian and German Renaissance rings, usually enameled, representing animals in three dimensions on their bezels--dogs, stags, bears, unicorns, etc.  For a particularly fine example of an enameled stag see the Marilyn Alsdorf collection in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv. 1992.500, published in Wardropper, 2000, Museum Studies, 25, 2000, no. 20).  Rings with such animals are found in southern Germany as well as in Italy during the middle of the sixteenth century.

    Description
    Thin circular hoop, soldered with a second hoop sculpted in three-dimensions (in ronde-bosse) to represent two small dogs facing each other on the bezel; they appear to be sharing a single wood stick or perhaps a bone held in their mouths; traces of white enamel on the dogs and of black enamel on the hoop; shoulders are decorated with engraved geometrical motives. Original enamel almost completely missing; else in very good condition.

    Literature
    For comparisons, see Alice and Louis Koch Collection, nos. 23,26; 23,36; and 23,28 (16th-century Italian rings with bezel made of small enameled high-relief dogs, published in Chadour, 1994, nos. 670; 671 and 672); see also Cologne, Kunstgewerbemuseum, inv. nr. G 984 CL. (c. 1550, Italian ring set with a dog, published in Chadour and Joppien, 1985, no. 241).

    Reference number: 396

  • 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.

     

  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
ring

THESE PLAYFUL SCULPTED DOGS ARE SYMBOLS OF FIDELTY MUCH LIKE THE DOG FOUND IN JAN VAN EYCK’S FAMOUS ARNOLFINI WEDDING PORTRAIT

Western Europe, likely Italy, mid-16th c.
Gold and traces of black and white enamel
Bezel 15 x 3 x 4 mm.; circumference 42 mm.; weight 2.7 gr.; US size 2 ¼; UK size D ½

USD $6,500

The imagery of two dogs, facing each other and evidently sharing a piece of wood or a bone suggests the idea of fidelity, either in friendship or love.  This ring is typical of a class of Italian and German Renaissance rings, usually enameled, representing animals in three dimensions on their bezels--dogs, stags, bears, unicorns, etc.  For a particularly fine example of an enameled stag see the Marilyn Alsdorf collection in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv. 1992.500, published in Wardropper, 2000, Museum Studies, 25, 2000, no. 20).  Rings with such animals are found in southern Germany as well as in Italy during the middle of the sixteenth century.

Description
Thin circular hoop, soldered with a second hoop sculpted in three-dimensions (in ronde-bosse) to represent two small dogs facing each other on the bezel; they appear to be sharing a single wood stick or perhaps a bone held in their mouths; traces of white enamel on the dogs and of black enamel on the hoop; shoulders are decorated with engraved geometrical motives. Original enamel almost completely missing; else in very good condition.

Literature
For comparisons, see Alice and Louis Koch Collection, nos. 23,26; 23,36; and 23,28 (16th-century Italian rings with bezel made of small enameled high-relief dogs, published in Chadour, 1994, nos. 670; 671 and 672); see also Cologne, Kunstgewerbemuseum, inv. nr. G 984 CL. (c. 1550, Italian ring set with a dog, published in Chadour and Joppien, 1985, no. 241).

Reference number: 396

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