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

ca. 1811 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1811, as senior captain in the Baltic fleet, Captain Newman Newman (1767-1811) was ordered to escort home the 'St George', 98 guns, 'Defence', 74 guns and 'Cressy', 74 guns. In a gale off Jutland on Christmas Eve, his ship, 'Hero', went aground and was lost with Newman-Newman and all but 12 of her ship's company. A similar fate befell the 'St George' and the 'Cressy'. It was the greatest shipwreck ever on the west-coast of Jutland and a serious loss for Royal Navy. The disaster made a deep impression on the people of that time and has never been forgotten. 125 years after the event, the Danish press took the initiative to raise a memorial stone which was unveiled at a ceremony in 1937. It stands on the Thorsminde tongue facing the position where the 'St George' was wrecked. A notice of Newman Newman's death in the 'European Magazine and London Review' of 1812 (vol 61) describes him as having been 'thirty years at sea, in twenty of which he was not six months on shore, in the East and West Indies and in many bloody engagements.'

From the early seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, testators left money in their wills to have rings with commemorative inscriptions made and distributed to their friends and families. Simple bands enamelled with the name and life dates of the deceased were frequently made, sometimes set with a gemstone or a bezel set with a rock crystal covering a symbol such as a coffin or initials in gold wire. In the later 18th century, rings followed neo-classical designs, their oval bezels often decorated with the same designs as funerary monuments such as urns, broken pillars and mourning figures. Hair from the deceased was incorporated into the designs or set in a compartment at the back of the ring to give each jewel a uniquely personal element. Black or white enamel were favoured though white enamel was often, though not universally used to commemorate children and unmarried adults. The bezel of this ring is enamelled with an Union flag, to symbolise James Newman Newman's service to his country. The snake curling around the bezel was a symbol of death but also rebirth, an endless circle being formed by the snake biting its own tail.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, enamelled and engraved
Brief Description
Gold mourning ring enamelled in black, white, red and blue. The oval bezel with the Union flag surrounded by a serpent. Inscribed behind Captn. James Newman Newman lost off the Haak in the Hero 74. Dec. 24, 1811, aged 46., England, about 1811.
Physical Description
Gold mourning ring enamelled in black, white, red and blue. The oval bezel with the Union flag surrounded by a serpent. Inscribed behind Captn. James Newman Newman lost off the Haak in the Hero 74. Dec. 24, 1811, aged 46.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.2cm
  • Width: 2.2cm
  • Depth: 1.4cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'Captn. James Newman Newman lost off the Haak in the Hero 74. Dec. 24, 1811, aged 46.' (Inscribed behind)
Credit line
Given by Mrs G. H. Goodman
Historical context
An oil portrait of the Captain James Newman Newman, by James Oliver Archer, is in the National Maritime Museum. The portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801. There is an engraving after it by Edward Scriven, made at or after the time of the sitter's death in 1811.



Subjects depicted
Summary
In 1811, as senior captain in the Baltic fleet, Captain Newman Newman (1767-1811) was ordered to escort home the 'St George', 98 guns, 'Defence', 74 guns and 'Cressy', 74 guns. In a gale off Jutland on Christmas Eve, his ship, 'Hero', went aground and was lost with Newman-Newman and all but 12 of her ship's company. A similar fate befell the 'St George' and the 'Cressy'. It was the greatest shipwreck ever on the west-coast of Jutland and a serious loss for Royal Navy. The disaster made a deep impression on the people of that time and has never been forgotten. 125 years after the event, the Danish press took the initiative to raise a memorial stone which was unveiled at a ceremony in 1937. It stands on the Thorsminde tongue facing the position where the 'St George' was wrecked. A notice of Newman Newman's death in the 'European Magazine and London Review' of 1812 (vol 61) describes him as having been 'thirty years at sea, in twenty of which he was not six months on shore, in the East and West Indies and in many bloody engagements.'



From the early seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, testators left money in their wills to have rings with commemorative inscriptions made and distributed to their friends and families. Simple bands enamelled with the name and life dates of the deceased were frequently made, sometimes set with a gemstone or a bezel set with a rock crystal covering a symbol such as a coffin or initials in gold wire. In the later 18th century, rings followed neo-classical designs, their oval bezels often decorated with the same designs as funerary monuments such as urns, broken pillars and mourning figures. Hair from the deceased was incorporated into the designs or set in a compartment at the back of the ring to give each jewel a uniquely personal element. Black or white enamel were favoured though white enamel was often, though not universally used to commemorate children and unmarried adults. The bezel of this ring is enamelled with an Union flag, to symbolise James Newman Newman's service to his country. The snake curling around the bezel was a symbol of death but also rebirth, an endless circle being formed by the snake biting its own tail.
Bibliographic References
  • Ward, Anne; Cherry, John; Gere, Charlotte; Cartlidge, Barbara, The Ring, London, 1981, p.125, cat. 278
  • Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, second edition Thames and Hudson/ V&A, 2017, p.79, cat. 94
Collection
Accession Number
M.314-1926

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record createdMay 4, 2006
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