Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1400-1500 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Rings decorated with religious figures and inscriptions were worn both as a public acknowledgement of Christian faith and because of the belief that they offered protection against earthly and spiritual dangers. Inscriptions suggest that they were often gifts. The motto 'sans departier' (without departing) is quite commonly found on rings and ring brooches. A silver brooch found at the Tower of London combines 'sans departir' with 'mon coeur avez' (you have my heart).

This ring was formerly part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977), art historian and collector. Early on she collected gems and jewels which resulted in the 1921 book, English Jewellery from the 5th Century BC to 1800. She published widely on jewellery, French medieval art and architecture. Evans was elected the first woman president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959 (through 1964). She was a trustee of the British Museum (1963-67). In her personal life, she donated time and money to many charitable historic causes, nearly all of them anonymously. Her will left collections to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery.

She gave her gem and jewellery collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum through a series of gifts, beginning in 1960. Her association with the museum went back to her childhood and she developed personal friendships with the museum curators and Directors. In 1965, after looking through her jewels with curator Charles Oman and discussing the gift to the V&A, she wrote that: ‘I never expected to feel like a millionaire, but I did today and it was a real creative pleasure to see how my bits and pieces fitted into your great collection to make the best conspectus of jewels I have ever seen. I don’t exaggerate my part; at least I know enough for that. But it’s the fitting in that gave me such surprise and pleasure. I bought better than I knew.’

In 1975, two years before her death aged 84, Joan Evans made over her remaining jewels to the museum, choosing to remain anonymous during her lifetime. As she wrote jokingly to Charles Oman, her village was ‘divided into those who think it must have been me and those who say it cannot have been because I am so shabby.’

In her final years, offering her collection to the museum, she wrote movingly that ‘My jewels come to your Department with love and gratitude. It has been kind to me for 65 years.’


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved gold, formerly enamelled
Brief Description
Gold ring, with traces of enamel depicting St. Paul with engraved sprigs on transverse fluted shoulders. The hoop is twisted and inscribed behind in black letter sans + de + partir (Without departing). England, 1400-1500.
Physical Description
Gold ring, with traces of enamel depicting St. Paul with engraved sprigs on transverse fluted shoulders. The hoop is twisted and inscribed behind in black letter sans + de + partir
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.1cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 0.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
inscribed sans + de + partir (The hoop; behind in black letter)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
From Fenham Hall, Essendine
Subjects depicted
Summary
Rings are the most commonly surviving medieval jewels. They were worn by both sexes, across all levels of society. Some portraits show wearers with multiple rings across all their fingers. Rings decorated with religious figures and inscriptions were worn both as a public acknowledgement of Christian faith and because of the belief that they offered protection against earthly and spiritual dangers. Inscriptions suggest that they were often gifts. The motto 'sans departier' (without departing) is quite commonly found on rings and ring brooches. A silver brooch found at the Tower of London combines 'sans departir' with 'mon coeur avez' (you have my heart).



This ring was formerly part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977), art historian and collector. Early on she collected gems and jewels which resulted in the 1921 book, English Jewellery from the 5th Century BC to 1800. She published widely on jewellery, French medieval art and architecture. Evans was elected the first woman president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959 (through 1964). She was a trustee of the British Museum (1963-67). In her personal life, she donated time and money to many charitable historic causes, nearly all of them anonymously. Her will left collections to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery.



She gave her gem and jewellery collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum through a series of gifts, beginning in 1960. Her association with the museum went back to her childhood and she developed personal friendships with the museum curators and Directors. In 1965, after looking through her jewels with curator Charles Oman and discussing the gift to the V&A, she wrote that: ‘I never expected to feel like a millionaire, but I did today and it was a real creative pleasure to see how my bits and pieces fitted into your great collection to make the best conspectus of jewels I have ever seen. I don’t exaggerate my part; at least I know enough for that. But it’s the fitting in that gave me such surprise and pleasure. I bought better than I knew.’



In 1975, two years before her death aged 84, Joan Evans made over her remaining jewels to the museum, choosing to remain anonymous during her lifetime. As she wrote jokingly to Charles Oman, her village was ‘divided into those who think it must have been me and those who say it cannot have been because I am so shabby.’



In her final years, offering her collection to the museum, she wrote movingly that ‘My jewels come to your Department with love and gratitude. It has been kind to me for 65 years.’

Collection
Accession Number
M.194-1975

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record createdMarch 3, 2006
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