RENAISSANCE NECK-PENDANTS

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THE necklaces, collars, or neck-chains which have just been spoken of as noticeable features in Renaissance decoration served the purpose of suspending a species of ornament even more peculiarly characteristic of the period—the pendant.

This was hung either to the neck let, or to the neck-chain that fell upon the breast. Among all classes of Renaissance jewelry, and indeed of the jewelry of all time, this neck-pendant certainly deserves the first place, not only on account of the predominating part it played among the other ornaments of the period, but also on account of the great number of examples we possess of it, and the variety of forms which it exhibits.

Throughout the Middle Ages almost every pendant worn at the neck {pent-a-col) bore a religious signification, but towards the close of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century the pendant seems to have lost much of its religious character, and became mainly an object of decoration. That even in the sixteenth century it did not entirely serve a decorative purpose is shown by a number of portraits dating from the first half of the century, where the termination of the neck-chain is hidden beneath a square-cut bodice.

What the object was which was thus concealed is uncertain. It was very possibly a reliquary, or perhaps a cross; for crosses formed a very large proportion of Renaissance pendants. Apart from crosses, the majority of Renaissance pendants represent a figured subject of some description, while compositions entirely of precious stones appear to be less common—at least in the second half of the sixteenth century, to which the greater number of these jewels belong. Holbein’s designs for pendants, on the other hand, were composed, it may be remembered, mainly of precious stones.

From this we may infer that jewels having as a central ornament a single precious stone, or a gem surrounded by stones, and a regular contour, generally antedate those with figured compositions within uneven or broken borders. This of course applies to jewels which exhibit distinctly a back and front, and not to those formed of a single figure in the round, which are often difficult to date, though extant examples belong mostly to the latter half of the century.

It is to be noticed that the majority of pendants are suspended by two, or sometimes three, richly jeweled and enameled chains, connected above by a cartouche similarly enriched. While sixteenth-century pendants display on their front the art of the gold smith-enameler in its full perfection, the reverse likewise exhibits artistic work in engraving as well as enameling.

It is likewise worthy of remark that Renaissance pendants are almost invariably enriched with pendent pearls. Of the immense number of subjects represented on these jewels we have already spoken in the introduction to the jewelry of the period. For pendants formed of single figures executed in the round, the whole of ancient or medieval imagery—with its figures of Pan or of wood-nymphs; centaurs, or mermen; mermaids or sirens; unicorns, dragons, and other creatures, real as well as fabulous, of the earth, air, or sea—was revived, or else transformed to suit the fancy of the Renaissance jeweler.

The formation of many of these was frequently suggested by a monster pearl, unsuitable for ordinary jewelry on account of its baroque or misshapen form, introduced in a wonderfully skillful manner into the body or breast of a figure, which was completed in enameled gold work. In such adaptations the German jewelers, who seem to have reveled in technical difficulties, displayed extraordinary ingenuity. Among groups of several figures employed as subjects for representation, generally within a frame of ornamental design, scenes from ancient mythology predominate, the Judgment of Paris being a very favorite theme. But Christian allegories are not excluded: besides the frequent representation of Charity with her two children or her symbol the pelican, we find Faith, Hope, and Fortitude; St. George and the Dragon or St. Michael are also frequently met with ; while among scriptural subjects of the Old and New Testaments or the Apocrypha, the Annunciation is perhaps the most popular.

The majority of the pendants of this class show a rich and uneven outline broken by tendrils often enriched with small dots of enamel, by projecting wings of birds by strap work and other ornament. Occasionally a “Charity” or an “Annunciation” is placed in an architectural niche, but the architectural device is not infrequently limited to a horizontal beam formed of a row of table-cut stones and two obelisks of the same construction forming the ends to the right and left. It is only in the smaller examples of pendants that we find the design lying flat on a plane. Generally the jewel is fashioned in relief by means of two, three, or even four superimposed planes formed of openwork plates arranged in such a manner that the lower parts are seen through openings in the upper. These are fastened together by rivets sometimes three-eighths of an inch long, and the upper field of the jewel, on which are groups of enameled figures.

GERMAN AND FRENCH RENAISSANCE PENDANTS with stones very large, so that the whole composition is increased to a considerable height. Collections contain frequent examples of this class of pendant. One of the most elaborate, of Augsburg work dating from the end of the sixteenth century, is in the Adolphe Rothschild Bequest in the Louvre. In the center is an enameled group representing the Annunciation, within an architectural framework set with diamonds, rubies, and pendent pearls. The jewel, which is suspended by triple chains from an enameled cartouche, measures in its total length 5 inches.

Similarly large openwork pendants, enriched with enamels, precious stones, and pendent pearls, are shown attached by a ribbon to the left breast in three portraits dated 1609, representing the Princesses Elizabeth, Hedwig, and Dorothea of Brunswick in the Hampton Court Gallery. Of pendants containing groups of small enameled figures there seems to have been an enormous production in Southern Germany towards the close of the sixteenth century, particularly in the workshops of Munich and Augsburg. These pieces, which are very charming, are greatly sought after by collectors, and are among the most highly prized of all objects of value. Their workmanship is extraordinarily elaborate though not a few of them, it must be confessed, are overloaded with detail, and somewhat unsatisfactory in composition.

Cameos began to play a prominent part in jewelry. A considerable number of cameos in the great gem collections, .set in exquisite jeweled and enameled mounts, are provided with loops for use as pendants. Numerous gems, splendidly mounted as pendants have been found in Museums. Of extant pendants having as a center-piece a figured subject, either cut in cameo or enameled work, the majority do show uneven contours after the manner of the German ornaments, though not a few of those of oval shape have frames with smooth outlines.

The doubling of the frame characteristic of the French cartouches, and the broken contours of the German pendants, which allow of a variety of intertwining s and traversing s, offer a favorite field for the display of the jeweler’s art in the application of poly chrome enamels. The model of a ship, was of frequent use as an article of table plate. Pendent jewels likewise take the form of a small ship completely equipped, suspended by chains, and hung with pearls. In this style of jewel, which is perhaps of Venetian origin, the crescent-shaped caravel or open and without a deck, but built up high at the prow and stern, with forecastle and cabin, and large ship’s lantern, is often adhered to, but the design is not infrequently somewhat conventional.Their probable Adriatic origin is evinced by the several specimens exhibited, together with jewels from the Greek Islands, in the Franks Bequest in the British Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum contains a choice example from the Spitzer Collection. It carries three masts, five sails, a lantern, and a high poop and stern. The rigging” is of twisted gold wire.

THE RENAISSANCE PENDANTS hull covered with a pattern in translucent blue, red, and green, and opaque white enamels. A variety to this form is presented by a remarkable piece in the museum at Vienna. It represents a barque manned by two rowers ; while at the prow and stern are mandolin players who entertain two passengers seated beneath the framework awning such as was in use on the gondolas of the time. The whole is enriched with poly chrome enamels. The figures are in full relief, and the boat, hung by three chains, is further set with diamonds and rubies. We may estimate the extraordinary value attached to such objects at the present day by the fact that a jewel very similar to this last was sold at Messrs. Christie’s Rooms in the autumn of 1903 for no less a sum than 6,500. The hull of this jewel is identical with that at Vienna, but figures of Antony and Cleopatra, finely executed, though somewhat out of proportion to the rest, here take the place of the couple beneath the awning; while instead of being hung by chains (as is suitable to this form of pendant) the jewel is backed by a composition of scroll- and strap-work, characteristic of German and Flemish work of the second half of the sixteenth century.

A comparison with contemporary designs clearly associates these two objects with the well-known set of engravings for pendent jewels published by Hans Collaert at Antwerp in. Another version of this jewel is in the Bavarian National Museum, Munich. The figures are the same as on the Vienna jewel, but the vessel is in the form of a fish. Just as the great gem cabinets preserve pendants whose jewel work is confined to richly decorated frames, so there exist a considerable number of mounted medals, which must be looked for in collections of coins and medals, among which they are classed on account of the presumed preponderating importance of their center-pieces. These pendent gold medals with beautiful jeweled and enameled mounts, occasionally hung with pearls and suspended by chains from ornate cartouches, were much in favor in Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and were given by noble personages, whose portraits were figured on them, as presents and as marks of special distinction.

Many examples, as is to be expected, are to be found in the coin cabinets of Munich and Berlin while others are preserved in the more important public and private collections of jewelry. These medallions, as was natural, were frequently made in duplicate, and the Waddesdon Bequest, and the Salting and Pierpont Morgan collections each contain a jewel, dated 1612, of Maximilian, Archduke of Austria (1558-1620), in an open-worked border of enameled scrolls interrupted by four shields of arms, and suspended by three chains, united above by an oval escutcheon with the arms of Austria on one side and the cross of the Teutonic order on the other.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an enamel-mounted medal of Albert VI, Duke of Bavaria (1584-1666), a facsimile of which, hung with a single instead of pearl, is in the Munich cabinet. Many of the motives connected with pendants denote associations which appear inexplicable, until it is understood that no small number of them, like the pendent medals, were gifts from princes, the so-called ” favors ” granted in recognition of services rendered. Among the princely gifts we must class that large group of pendants which consist only of one letter or a monogram in an ornamental frame or in openwork, sometimes composed entirely of precious stones. Of these the Victoria and Albert Museum possesses a fine early example in form of a square tablet of gold set with pearls, bearing on one side two enameled shields of arms, and on the other the initials DA, in a frame formed of bracket-shaped terminal figures.

RENAISSANCE PENDANTS masks. It is of German work of about the year 1530. Distinct from these princely monograms are those employed for religious purposes, particularly the monograms of Christ and the Virgin. Probably the finest example of the numerous pendants in the form of a single figure, particularly of those whose formation is suggested by a large baroque pearl, is the merman jewel in the possession of Lord Clanricarde. The figure, whose body is made of a single pearl, with head and arms of white enamel and tail of brilliant yellow, green, and blue, wields a jaw-bone in the right hand, and an enameled satyr’s mask as a shield in the left.

This magnificent Italian jewel was brought from India by Lord Canning. Pendants of somewhat similar character, often representing a mermaid holding a comb in one hand and a mirror in the other, are to be found in the Vienna, Windsor, Waddesdon, and other collections. They are almost invariably of German workmanship. Among many other jewels of similar formation the most important is a pendant in the form of a dragon in the Galerie dApollon of the Louvre. The modeling and general form of this jewel is very fine, and its enamel-work, chiefly of white and light blue, in the design of circles and chevrons, especially on the wings, is most admirable. It is Spanish work of the highest quality, and was bequeathed by Baron Davillier,who procured it.

Of other animal forms are those of a lion, a dromedary, a dog, and a fish, birds include, besides a dove (the symbol of the Holy Ghost), eagles, cocks, parrots, and pelicans.

Among miscellaneous pendants worn in Renaissance times attached to the neck-chain mention must be made of whistles. These were formed of a pipe or tube, sometimes in the form of a pistol, through which the air is carried into a hole in a ball, thus producing the sound. Whistles of this kind were designed by Diirer and Brosamer, and they are shown suspended at the neck in the engraved portraits of William, Duke of Juliers, and of John of Leyden by Aldegrever, in the portrait of a man by Lucas Cranach the elder (1472-1553) in the Louvre, and in portraits of the Margrave Philibert of Baden (1549) by Hans Schopfer the elder at Munich and Nuremberg. Silver whistles of somewhat similar construction, ornamented with a mermaid or siren, or with a lion or sea-horse, were frequently worn also as charms in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

They are usually hung with little bells, possibly for the purpose of averting the evil eye as it is termed in Italy. In Aldegrever’s design for a whistle, of the year 1539′ the lower part is formed of a case containing small articles for toilet purposes. Such articles, in the shape of toothpicks and ear picks, often richly gem-med and enameled, were very commonly worn hanging from a fine gold chain or thread about the neck.

Elaborate toothpicks are occasionally seen in pictures, as in the Venetian portrait of a young man in the National Gallery of Ireland. Their owners are sometimes shown affectionately toying with them. Judging by the frequency with which they are met with in inventories, they must have been extremely popular.

Other magnificent toothpicks in the form often that of a mermaid or merman. The body is constructed of a baroque pearl; the tail terminates in a point. Designs for a couple of jewels of this kind were published by Erasmus Hornick of Nuremberg in 1562. In the Cluny Museum (Wasset Bequest) is a silver-gilt pendant, an ear-and toothpick combined, one end being an ear-, the other a toothpick. It is ornamented in the center with clasped hands and hung with a pearl, and is German work of the sixteenth century.

In addition to the museums already mentioned (namely, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Vienna Museum, the Rothschild and Davillier Bequests in the Louvre, and the coin or gem collections of London, Paris, Berlin, and Munich), numbers of pendants, in immense variety of form, are to be found in all the well-known collections.

Of the pendants of the time of Henry VIII we obtain a tolerably accurate idea from contemporary portraits, and from Holbein’s inimitable series of drawings.

A pendant of this form, a present to Elizabeth from Sir Francis Drake, and given by her to Lord Hunsdon. It is supposed to represent the famous Golden Hind, the ship in which Drake sailed round the world. The hull, which is of ebony, is set with a table diamond ; the masts and rigging of gold are enriched with blue, white, green, and black opaque enamels, and set with seed pearls. In the ship is a seated figure of Victory blowing a horn, and behind is a cherub crowning her with a wreath.

The small boat suspended below is enameled blue. A jewel also associated with Sir Francis Drake, and perhaps the most important of all Elizabethan pendants, is preserved, with other relics of the great navigator, at Nutwell Court, Devon. It is set in front with a fine Renaissance cameo in Oriental sardonyx, representing two heads—a negro in the upper and dark layer, and a classical head in the light layer of the stone. Behind is a miniature by Hilliard of Elizabeth, dated 1575. The border, of most admirable work, is richly enameled in red, yellow, blue, and green, interspersed with diamonds and rubies. Beneath is a cluster pendant of pearls, to which is attached a very fine drop pearl.

This magnificent jewel was presented to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth in 1579, and in his portrait by Zucchero (now belonging, together with the jewel, to his descendant Sir F. Fuller-Eliott-Drake) he is represented wearing it suspended from the neck by a red and gold cord, over a silk scarf, also a present from the Queen. The cluster of pearls, as on the Drake Jewel, was a favorite form of ornament for Renaissance pendants.

In the National Portrait Gallery is a portrait of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk (father of Lady Jane Grey), wearing a George of the Order of the Garter, below which is hung a pearl cluster and a large pear-shaped pearl attached. A similar pendant, like a bunch of grapes, serves to enrich another fine jewel of this time —the Barbor Jewel in the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the center of this jewel is a beautifully cut cameo portrait in sardonyx of Queen Elizabeth in a frame of translucent blue and green on opaque white enamel, set alternately with rubies and table diamonds. According to a family tradition, Mr. William Barbor, who had been condemned to be burned at the stake in Smithfield for his religion, had this jewel made to commemorate his deliverance through the death of Queen Mary and the accession of Elizabeth.

The Museum at South Kensington exhibits another pendant of the same period, the property of Miss Wild. It is of gold, of open scroll work, enameled, and set with rubies and diamonds, and with pearl drops. It has in the centre a turquoise cameo of Queen Elizabeth. The sheen of the pearls with the rich red of the foiled rubies and the dark luster of the diamonds in their old irregular setting, combine with the lightness and delicacy of the gold work touched with colored enamel to render this little pendant one of the most attractive objects of its kind in existence. In addition to its artistic beauty, the jewel is of interest from the tradition that it was given as a christening present by Queen Elizabeth to its first owner, by whose descendants it has been preserved to the present day. Among other examples in that important group of jewels which were apparently intended either as special rewards to naval officers or simply as complimentary presents from the Queen to Court favorites, the finest are the Phoenix Jewel in the British Museum, a jewel belonging to Mr. Pierpont Morgan.

The Phoenix Jewel, bequeathed to the British Museum by Sir Hans Sloane in 1753, has as a central ornament a gold bust of Queen Elizabeth cut from a gold medal known as the Phoenix Badge of the year 1574, bearing on the reverse the device of a phoenix amid flames. It is enclosed in an enameled wreath set on both sides with red, white, and variegated roses symbolizing the union of the Houses of York and Lancaster. The roses, of translucent red and opaque white enamel, and the leaves, of translucent green on engraved ground, are attached to stalks covered with lighter green opaque enamel. The workmanship of this jewel is extremely fine.

Of the last-named—a splendid production of an English goldsmith of the Elizabethan period—it is impossible to speak with adequate praise. Like the Phoenix Jewel, it is modeled upon a contemporary medal, /lough in an entirely different style. Upon the front is a profile bust of Queen Elizabeth from the Personal or Garter badge of 1582, upon an enameled ground of aventurine blue, inscribed with the royal title. The opposite side forms a locket containing a miniature of Elizabeth by Hilliard dated 1580, and covered with a lid enameled with translucent colors— on the outside with the Ark and the motto and on the inside with the Tudor rose and a laudatory Latin motto—the same as appears round the reverse of the Phoenix Badge of 1574, which refers to Elizabeth with a regret “that virtue endued with so much beauty should not uninjured enjoy perpetual life.” The jewel is bordered by strap work a jour of opaque blue and white enamel set with table diamonds and rubies. This exquisite object, which is in the highest possible state of preservation, and retains its fine enamel entirely uninjured.

Another great piece of jewelry has in the center a mother-of-pearl medallion with the Ark carved in low relief, of the same design as on the Morgan Jewel and the 1588 medal, surrounded by an inscription— in gold on white enamel, and encircled by a band of table-cut rubies. The edge is enameled with translucent red and green, and opaque white enamel. The Ark floating tranquilly amid violent waves is emblematic of the fortunes of England, or possibly of Elizabeth.

The front opens on a hinge, and shows that the pendant was intended as a miniature case—though the miniature is missing. In the times of Elizabeth and her successor miniature cases were among the most important of pendent jewels. Quite a number have survived, chiefly on account of the miniatures they enclose. Contemporary portraits show the manner in which they were worn.

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