Webster's Dictionary defines a "masterpiece" as "a work done with extraordinary skill or artistic achievement." I have been fortunate enough lately to acquire several jewels which meet this criteria, and I am proud to present the "Masterpiece collection" for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Dating to c.1475 , this is an important devotional jewel which has come down through the past 500+ years in completely intact, museum-quality condition. This late medieval/early Renaissance jewel was crafted in Bavaria, and is of a form that was widely popular from 1450-1500. The rarity, beauty and condition of this significant discovery qualify it for Masterpiece status!
Measuring 2 1/2" long x 1" wide x 1/4" tall, this pendant depicts Christ on the cross, with standing figures of the Virgin Mary to his left, and the Apostle John to his right. The cross takes the form of a tree, and above is the banner inscribed "INRI." Christ wears the crown of thorns, and his elongated body and loincloth are typical of late medieval depictions of the cruxcifiction.
Mary and John stand on their own pedestals, and both have an openwork halo around their heads. The pedestals are joined by a graceful bar of silver, showing the skull at the bottom of the cross. The pendant terminates in an engraved knop, also typical of late 15th century design. This pendant is cast "in the round," and the reverse is beautifully detailed, showing the branches of the tree and the backs of the gowns of the Saints. This pendant is crafted from solid sterling-grade silver (unmarked but tested), and weighs 16 grams.
This astounding pendant must have been hidden away in a private Church collection for centuries to avoid the destruction of these sort of jewels during the Protestant Reformation. Jewels such as this were also often melted down for the value of their silver during difficult economic times. I have seen such pendants in reference books, but this example is the first of its kind I have had the honor of handling, and it is an absolutely incredible example!
Best of all, this museum-piece is highly wearable today! It looks smashing worn on a silver chain, and is suitable for wear a lady or a gentleman. I can only imagine the joy it gave its original owner, and cannot help but wonder about the people who wore this pendant over the past 15 generations! This jewel would originally been gilded, but the gilding has worn off form five centuries of careful handling. This is typical for a silver gilt pendant of this period, and does not detract from the inherent value or beauty of the piece. The figures still all display fine detail. The silver appears to have been polished in the past 100 years, but it has built up a lovely patina that adds beauty to this already magnificent jewel.
Please see the bottom three photos for a nearly identical jewel dated to 1500. The reference is taken from the book "Schmuck I: Kunstgewerbemuseum der Stat Koln," by Anna Beatriz Chador and Rudiger Joppien, Stat Koln: 1985, p.193, fig. 84. This volume is one of a two-volume set of the collection of jewelry in the Koln Museum, in Germany. The Victoria and Albert Museum also houses several examples in their jewelry collection dating to c.1400-1500.
This jewel will thrill the most discerning of collectors of devotional jewelry, and will be sold with a COA and valuation for your insurance purposes. I cannot emphasize the rarity of this jewel; it took me 20 years to find this one, and I do not expect to find another. Do not miss this investment-worthy pendant; layaway is available!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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