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Dress ornaments

Dress ornaments

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (South, made)

  • Date:

    late 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr F. Leverton Harris

  • Museum number:

    M.442 to B-1927

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Three ornaments of gold, decorated with transluscent enamel, two with cherub's heads, one with fruits.

Place of Origin

Germany (South, made)


late 16th century (made)



Object history note

Letter given in 1927 to the Museum
'Ornament in gold and enamel by Benvenuto Cellini
Three ornaments, consisting of a group of fruit and 2 angel's heads, being part of a set of 9 similar ornaments by Benvenuto Cellini, which were originally studded in the rim of a gold plate.
The accompanying set of 3 of these ornaments, as well as another precisely the same set, were purchased by the late Thomason Bonar Esq of Camden Plack, Chiselhurst, and by the lat Lord Ruthven, at the sale of the celebrated collection of Prince Poniatovski, which took place at Naples (or Rome?) about the year 1820.

These two groups of 3 ornaments were afterwards set in the clasps of 2 exactly similar bracelets (formed of gold chains) made for Mrs Bonar and Lady Ruthven, either by Messrs Bautte of Geneva or by Messrs Rundell & Bridge of London.

The remaining 3 of the 9 ornaments were in the possession of King George IV who commissioned Messrs Rundel & Bridge to offer any reasonable price for the other sets, the King's wish being to collect the 9 ornaments so as to reconstruct the original plate of Benvenuto Cellini.

Neither of the ladies, however, was disposed to entertain the proposal.

The Dovager Lady Ruthven still retains her bracelet in its original form, of which a rough sketch is enclosed.
Mrs Bonar's bracelet has been unmounted the year before her death, with the intention of forming the 3 subjects into an ornament for the neck by connecting them with small chains of diamonds.
This intention however was not carried into execution.'

Two letters from Lady Mary Ruthven dated 1881 saying that she gave away her 3 ornaments as a wedding present to a friend who was getting married. She knows they were bought in Italy as Cellini's works, and that another set of 3 was acquired by Mrs. Bonar.

Christie's sale, March 1898, lot 521
'521. Two gold mounts chased and chiselled as cherubs' heads, richly enamelled in translucent colours; and a group of fruit and flowers, of similar workmanship.
These 3 pieces of goldsmith's work were formerly part of the decoration of a chalice said to be by Cellini (see correspondance)
From the Poniatowski collection'

Bequeathed by Mr. F. Leverton Harris (1864-1926) on 25/06/1927 per her widow. They were in Mrs. Gurney's father's collection.

Descriptive line

Three ornaments of gold, decorated with transluscent enamel, two with cherub's heads, one with fruit, South Germany, late 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), p.68, Case 13, Board A, no.13.

Labels and date

Gold, decorated with translucent enamel. Two with cherub's heads, one with fruit.
SOUTH GERMAN: late 16th century.
Poniatowski and Gurney Collections; bequeathed by Mr. F. Leverton Harris

This is the full text from Bury, 1982, Case 13, Board A, no.13. [1982]


Gold; Enamel



Subjects depicted

Fruit; Putto


Jewellery; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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