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Ring

possibly 17th century (painted), 18th century (setting)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

After the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 by the Commonwealth, commemorative jewellery was immediately produced. Locks of the King's hair, painted miniatures and royalist symbols were set into rings, lockets and pendants and worn as a sign of allegiance to the Royalist cause. As wearing such jewellery could be dangerous during the Civil War, many of these objects may have been hidden until the Restoration or produced after the accession of Charles II.

This ring was probably made in the 18th century but is set with a portrait which appears to have been painted in the mid-17th century. Although some jewels supporting the King were worn during the Commonwealth period, many were produced after the Restoration of 1660. Charles II was vigilant to ensure that his father’s memory was preserved. He was celebrated as King Charles the Martyr and the day of his death was maintained as a national day of ‘fasting and humiliation’. Rings set with the King’s portrait were therefore worn as a sign of allegiance to the new regime and a repudiation of Commonwealth sympathies. After the exile of James II in 1688, political supporters continued to wear these rings to show their support for the restoration of Catholic Stuart rule. Interest in Charles I continued in the 19th century. In 1813, when the coffin of Charles I was discovered in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the Prince Regent, later George IV, had it opened and removed a number of mementoes, including locks of hair which were made into jewellery.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold set with a crystal enclosing a miniature
Brief Description
Gold commemorative ring, the oval bezel set with a crystal enclosing a miniature of Charles I, England, the miniature possibly 17th century, the setting 18th century
Physical Description
Gold commemorative ring, the oval bezel set with a crystal enclosing a miniature of Charles I.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.1cm
  • Width: 2.1cm
  • Depth: 1.9cm
Gallery Label
  • Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text: Ring with miniature of Charles I Miniature about 1649–1700; setting about 1780 Many pieces of jewellery and miniatures of Charles I were produced after his execution in 1649. They were worn by those who supported the cause of monarchy and hoped for its restoration. Jewels were also set with locks of the king’s hair and pieces of fabric soaked in his blood. England Gold with a miniature painted in enamel set under rock crystal Bequeathed by Miss A. Cameron V&A M.1-1909
Credit line
Bequeathed by Miss A. Cameron
Object history
A note in the Registered Description suggests that it was a family heirloom for the Cameron family before being bequeathed to the V&A in 1909.
Historical context
Commemorates the death of King Charles I
Subjects depicted
Summary
After the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 by the Commonwealth, commemorative jewellery was immediately produced. Locks of the King's hair, painted miniatures and royalist symbols were set into rings, lockets and pendants and worn as a sign of allegiance to the Royalist cause. As wearing such jewellery could be dangerous during the Civil War, many of these objects may have been hidden until the Restoration or produced after the accession of Charles II.



This ring was probably made in the 18th century but is set with a portrait which appears to have been painted in the mid-17th century. Although some jewels supporting the King were worn during the Commonwealth period, many were produced after the Restoration of 1660. Charles II was vigilant to ensure that his father’s memory was preserved. He was celebrated as King Charles the Martyr and the day of his death was maintained as a national day of ‘fasting and humiliation’. Rings set with the King’s portrait were therefore worn as a sign of allegiance to the new regime and a repudiation of Commonwealth sympathies. After the exile of James II in 1688, political supporters continued to wear these rings to show their support for the restoration of Catholic Stuart rule. Interest in Charles I continued in the 19th century. In 1813, when the coffin of Charles I was discovered in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the Prince Regent, later George IV, had it opened and removed a number of mementoes, including locks of hair which were made into jewellery.
Bibliographic References
  • Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011
  • Oman, C.C., Catalogue of Rings (London, 1930), p.118, no.787
  • Dicks, Sophia, The King’s Blood: Relics of King Charles I, exhibition catalogue, Wartski, London, 2010
  • "Surrounded with Brilliants": Miniature Portraits in Eighteenth-Century England; Marcia Pointon; The Art Bulletin Vol. 83, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 48-71
Collection
Accession Number
M.1-1909

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record createdJuly 18, 2006
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