Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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RENAISSANCE PECTORAL CROSS PENDANT

Western Europe, probably southern Germany, c. 1600

Gold, enamel, and glass paste

  • 42.500 €
  • £37,600
  • $50,000
  • RENAISSANCE PECTORAL CROSS PENDANT

    Western Europe, probably southern Germany, c. 1600
    Gold, enamel, and glass paste
    Weight 43 grams; dimensions 75 × 43 × 11 mm

    Descritpion
    Double-sided cross pendant in gold. On the front are table-cut red glass paste gems with red foil beneath to intensify the color and imitate rubies. The paste gems are box set and decorated along the sides with gold scrollwork in opaque white enamel. The protruding backplate is decorated with white enameled scrollwork. The ends of the cross case in raised relief with a hexagonal base in scroll- and strapwork with opaque blue and translucent green foliage and turquoise-blue fruits. The gently convex reverse backplate has gold strapwork against a translucent blue enameled background as ornament, with translucent green border and white enameled brackets on the cross ends.

    Provenance
    Michael Wellby Collection; his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 11 December 2012, no. 3 (Wellby [d. 2012] donated a large part of his collection to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

    Comparisons and Literature
    In Renaissance Europe, cross pendants were worn across the Catholic countries, and many date from the second half of the sixteenth century to the seventeenth century, as documented in portraits. They are often gem-set, varying mainly in the type of settings and ornamental enameled features, often indicative of their date and origin. Related examples from an earlier period, thought to be from southern Germany, are in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim (Appuhn 1970, pp. 8-9 and fig. 7; Hackenbroch 1979, fig. 395, inv. no. 1968/4), and in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid (Somers Cocks/Truman 1984, pp. 78-79, no. 7). A Spanish cross pendant is in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (Muller 2012, pp. 66-67, figs. 82-83), and further examples can be found in the Llibres de Passanties (no. 2) in Barcelona dating from 1591-1612, fols. 236/308 and 323/395. Distinctive is the silhouette-like strapwork on this cross with geometric lines and without grotesque figures, which dates about 1590-1620. The goldsmiths would have used ornamental prints, such as those by Daniel Mignot (active 1593-96; de Jong/de Groot 1988); J. Hurtu (Irmscher 1984, p. 224); and G. van Ryssen (Irmscher 2005, p. 129).

    Reference number: 35005

  • 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

RENAISSANCE PECTORAL CROSS PENDANT

Western Europe, probably southern Germany, c. 1600
Gold, enamel, and glass paste
Weight 43 grams; dimensions 75 × 43 × 11 mm

USD $50,000

Descritpion
Double-sided cross pendant in gold. On the front are table-cut red glass paste gems with red foil beneath to intensify the color and imitate rubies. The paste gems are box set and decorated along the sides with gold scrollwork in opaque white enamel. The protruding backplate is decorated with white enameled scrollwork. The ends of the cross case in raised relief with a hexagonal base in scroll- and strapwork with opaque blue and translucent green foliage and turquoise-blue fruits. The gently convex reverse backplate has gold strapwork against a translucent blue enameled background as ornament, with translucent green border and white enameled brackets on the cross ends.

Provenance
Michael Wellby Collection; his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 11 December 2012, no. 3 (Wellby [d. 2012] donated a large part of his collection to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

Comparisons and Literature
In Renaissance Europe, cross pendants were worn across the Catholic countries, and many date from the second half of the sixteenth century to the seventeenth century, as documented in portraits. They are often gem-set, varying mainly in the type of settings and ornamental enameled features, often indicative of their date and origin. Related examples from an earlier period, thought to be from southern Germany, are in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim (Appuhn 1970, pp. 8-9 and fig. 7; Hackenbroch 1979, fig. 395, inv. no. 1968/4), and in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid (Somers Cocks/Truman 1984, pp. 78-79, no. 7). A Spanish cross pendant is in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (Muller 2012, pp. 66-67, figs. 82-83), and further examples can be found in the Llibres de Passanties (no. 2) in Barcelona dating from 1591-1612, fols. 236/308 and 323/395. Distinctive is the silhouette-like strapwork on this cross with geometric lines and without grotesque figures, which dates about 1590-1620. The goldsmiths would have used ornamental prints, such as those by Daniel Mignot (active 1593-96; de Jong/de Groot 1988); J. Hurtu (Irmscher 1984, p. 224); and G. van Ryssen (Irmscher 2005, p. 129).

Reference number: 35005

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