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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Europe (made)

  • Date:

    c. 1200-1300 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, engraved; sapphire

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.181-1975

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 5, shelf C, box 12

On medieval jewellery, love and affection were frequently expressed in inscriptions. Rings so inscribed are known as 'posy' rings (from 'poesy', or poetry). Such inscriptions can be in Latin or in French, both languages fairly widely understood or spoken by the elite in Western Europe. Love inscriptions often repeat each other, which suggests that goldsmiths used stock phrases. Perhaps the most commonly found inscription is 'Amor Vincit Omnia', a motto found on a brooch worn by the flirtatious Prioress in Chaucer's Prologue to the 'Canterbury Tales', written around 1390.

'Ave Maria gracia plena', the salutation used by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary is also commonly found on rings, purse-mounts and other small, personal items and may have had a magical or prophylactic intention.

Physical description

Gold ring, the projecting four-claw bezel set with a polished cabochon sapphire, the hoop with lion-mask shoulders. The hoop inscribed in Lombardic lettering AVE MARIA GRA[CIA] (Hail Mary Full of Grace) and AMOR VINCI[T] O[M]NIA (Love Conquers All).

Place of Origin

Europe (made)

Date

c. 1200-1300 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, engraved; sapphire

Marks and inscriptions

AVE MARIA GRA[CIA]
AMOR VINCI[T] O[M]NIA.
'Hail Mary, full of Grace'
'Love Conquers All'
Inscription on the hoop, in Lombardic lettering, in Latin

Dimensions

Height: 2.9 cm, Width: 2.3 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: 'Ave Maria gracia plena' is found inscribed on rings in the British Museum (Dalton 681-693) and on several rings in the Guilhou collection (sold Sotheby & Co. November, 1937).

Descriptive line

Gold ring set with a cabochon sapphire, with lion-mask shoulders, the hoop inscribed in lombardic lettering AVE MARIA GRA[CIA],AMOR VINCI[T] O[M]NIA, Europe, c. 1250-1300.

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

Campbell, Marian Medieval Jewellery in Europe 1100-1500 , London, V&A Publishing, 2009, pp. 92-4, fig.22
Bury, Shirley, Introduction to Rings, London, 1984, cat. 26B, p.24
Taylor, Gerald and Scarisbrick, Diana, Finger rings from ancient Egypt to the present day, Ashmolean Museum press, 1978, cat. 265
Hindman, Sandra, Towards a new art history of medieval rings: a private collection, London, 2007, p. 128
Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, cat. 5
Hindman, Sandra ed. Cycles of life: rings from the Benjamin Zucker family collection, London, 2014, p.59

Materials

Gold; Sapphire

Techniques

Engraving

Subjects depicted

Lions (animals); Love

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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