Rings from a Distinguished Spanish Collection (lots 10 and 11)
PROBABLY ITALIAN, CIRCA 1300
inscribed with a partially legible inscription: + S. DEVDONEDVBELLO (?)
gold, set with a garnet intaglio
ring size: K
E. Guilhou, Paris, by 1912;
Sotheby’s London, 11 December 1986, lot 202;
private collection, Spain (acquired through Spink & Sons, 1986)
Catalogue of a Collection of Ancient Rings formed by the Late E. Guilhou, Paris, 1912, p. 154, no. 1273, pl. XIX
The present signet ring comes from one of the greatest collections of rings assembled around the turn of the last century by Monsieur G. Guilhou of Paris. It is published in the 1912 catalogue (illustrated) but appears not to have been sold in the 1937 Sotheby’s sale of the Guilhou collection. Intaglios and cameos, ancient or contemporary, were often incorporated into rings in the medieval period, and, according to Martin Henig, were intended to serve as a sigillum secreti (seals of secret significance used for personal correspondence). According to Henig, such gems were prized, as is evidenced by a Statute of Edward I dated to 1300 ordering that ‘gravers or cutters of stones, and of seals shall give to each their weight of silver and gold, as near as they can, upon their fidelity’. Compare with ring in the British Museum illustrated by Dalton (op. cit.) and that exhibited as part of a private collection by Les Enluminures in 2014 (op. cit.). Note also the signet ring in the Victoria and Albert Museum London (inv. no. M.290-1962).
O. M. Dalton, The Franks Bequest, Catalogue of the Finger Rings, cat. British Museum, London, 1912 pl.III; M. Henig, ‘The re-use and copying of ancient intaglios set in Medieval personal seals mainly found in England: an aspect of the Renaissance of the 12th century’, in J. Cherry and J. Robinson (eds.), Good Impressions: image and authority in medieval seals, London, 2007, pp. 25-34; S. Hindman and D. Scarisbrick, Toward an Art History of Medieval Rings: A Private Colllection, exh. cat., Les Enluminures, 2014, no. 19; . Cherry and M. Henig, ‘Intaglios Set in Medieval Seal Matrices: Indicators of Political Power and Social Status?’ in J. Cherry, J. Berenbeim and L. de Beer (eds.), Seals and Status: The Power of Objects, The British Museum, London, 2018, pp. 104-113
Overall the condition of the ring is good with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There are various very minor abrasions and scratches to the gold. There are a few very slight gaps between the setting and stone.