Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
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PENDANT WITH VIRGIN OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Spain (Andalucia or Estremadura), c. 1630

Gold, enamel, paste

  • 13.600 €
  • £12,000
  • $16,000
  • PENDANT WITH VIRGIN OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

    Spain (Andalucia or Estremadura), c. 1630
    Gold, enamel, paste
    Weight 35 grams; dimensions 74 × 57 × 3 mm

    Description
    Openwork gold pendant with quatrefoil frame in black and white enamel with Spanish inscription CONCEBIDA S[I]N PECADO ORIGINAL (conceived without original sin) surrounded by an aureole. Four glass-paste gems in box settings partially cover the inscription. The central motif is the Virgin in flat relief standing on a pillar with winged cherub and surrounded by a gold aureole. She wears a white enameled dress with blue flowers and gold flowers on the translucent blue mantle. The reverse is enameled with a smaller figure of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
     
    Comparisons and Literature
    Two variants of this pendant type with the same inscription are in the Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, cf. Arbeteta Mira 2003, no. 44. In Spain the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was a popular motif in seventeenth-century jewelry; cf. examples without the inscription in the Hispanic Society of America, New York (Muller 2012, figs. 213-14); Museo Arqueológico Nacional and Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, both Madrid (exh. cat., La Joyería Española 1998, nos. 95, 96 and p. 42); and Victoria and Albert Museum, London (396-1872).

    Reference number: 35012

  • 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 .

  • 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

PENDANT WITH VIRGIN OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Spain (Andalucia or Estremadura), c. 1630
Gold, enamel, paste
Weight 35 grams; dimensions 74 × 57 × 3 mm

USD $16,000

Description
Openwork gold pendant with quatrefoil frame in black and white enamel with Spanish inscription CONCEBIDA S[I]N PECADO ORIGINAL (conceived without original sin) surrounded by an aureole. Four glass-paste gems in box settings partially cover the inscription. The central motif is the Virgin in flat relief standing on a pillar with winged cherub and surrounded by a gold aureole. She wears a white enameled dress with blue flowers and gold flowers on the translucent blue mantle. The reverse is enameled with a smaller figure of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
 
Comparisons and Literature
Two variants of this pendant type with the same inscription are in the Museo Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, cf. Arbeteta Mira 2003, no. 44. In Spain the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was a popular motif in seventeenth-century jewelry; cf. examples without the inscription in the Hispanic Society of America, New York (Muller 2012, figs. 213-14); Museo Arqueológico Nacional and Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, both Madrid (exh. cat., La Joyería Española 1998, nos. 95, 96 and p. 42); and Victoria and Albert Museum, London (396-1872).

Reference number: 35012

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