Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64b, The Simon Sainsbury Gallery

Tethering Ring

1400-1500 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Decorative wall-rings are an object type almost exclusively confined to Italy. They were affixed to buildings for the tethering of horses to ensure that the animals remained where it was left. The bracket was set into the mortar between stones in such a way that the ring hung down flush with the wall. Through use over time, the rings wear a circular indent into the wall to which they are attached, as can be seen with surviving examples still in situ in Siena. As tools of war, commerce and personal transport, horses were of great importance in Renaissance Italy and great attention was paid to their care. They were valuable assets and were "shown-off" in triumphal marches and festival parades through towns and cities.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Wrought iron
Brief description
Tethering ring, wrought iron with chiselled ornament in the form of death's head, made in Italy, 15th century
Physical description
Tethering ring and bracket with an incised dot decoration and chiselled death's head ornament.
Dimensions
  • Height: 30cm
  • Width: 13.5cm
  • Depth: 15cm
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Gallery label
TETHERING RING Wrought iron Italy; late 16th century or early 17th century 593-1924 Chiselled with Death's head.(07/1994)
Object history
From the Peruzzi collection.
Historical context
Wall-rings were affixed to buildings for the tethering of horses. The bracket was set into the mortar between stones in such a way that the ring hung down flush with the wall. Through use over time, the rings wear a circular indent into the wall to which they are attached, as can be seen with examples which survive in situ in Siena. Other examples survive in the collection of the Bargello in Florence. As tools of war, commerce and personal transport, horses were of great importance in Renaissance Italy and great attention was paid to their care. They were raced and took part carnivals, triumphal marches and festival parades, and schools for horsemanship were created by the Medici. Dressage, a form of horsemanship, was first introduced during the classical Greek period by the founder of hippology, Xenophon, and was rediscovered during the 15th century with the "rebirth" of interest in the classical world.

During the Renaissance, iron was wrought rather than cast and these rings such as the present example were created by blacksmiths physically twisting and beating heated iron. Decorative wall-rings show how even the most everyday of objects could be embellished to aggrandise the exterior of buildings in an Italian Renaissance city. Ironwork was commonly used for exterior adornment, also appearing in the form of cressets and banner holders and Vassari records that Filippo Strozzi "caused beautiful pieces of ironwork to be made" for all parts of his palace (palazzo Strozzi, Florence).
Subject depicted
Summary
Decorative wall-rings are an object type almost exclusively confined to Italy. They were affixed to buildings for the tethering of horses to ensure that the animals remained where it was left. The bracket was set into the mortar between stones in such a way that the ring hung down flush with the wall. Through use over time, the rings wear a circular indent into the wall to which they are attached, as can be seen with surviving examples still in situ in Siena. As tools of war, commerce and personal transport, horses were of great importance in Renaissance Italy and great attention was paid to their care. They were valuable assets and were "shown-off" in triumphal marches and festival parades through towns and cities.
Bibliographic reference
Gardner, John Starkie. Ironwork. Part 2: Continental ironwork of the renaissance and later periods. London, 1896. pp.11-12
Collection
Accession number
M.593-1924

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Record createdOctober 16, 2006
Record URL
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