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

Pendant

1540-1560 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The settings of the stones on this pendant are open at the back. This allows direct contact with the wearer's skin. According to medieval and Renaissance beliefs, the magical properties of the stones could thus benefit the wearer. Renaisance pendants were often made as amulets to protect against danger. Here, the power of the amulet is heightened by an inscription to ward off epilepsy and an invocation to God, Jesus and Mary.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled gold, set with a hessonite garnet and a peridot, and hung with a sapphire
Brief Description
Prophylactic pendant, gold, enamelled and set with a hessonite garnet and a peridot, and hung with a sapphire, Britain, ca.1540-60.
Physical Description
Prophylactic pendant, gold, with traces of enamel in black and translucent blue, set with a hessonite garnet and a peridot, and hung with a sapphire.
Dimensions
  • Height: 5.9cm
  • Width: 2.8cm
  • Depth: 0.6cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'ANNANISAPTA+DEI' (Textual information; back of the setting)
  • 'DETRAGRAMMATA IHS MARIA' (Textual information; back of the setting)
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
The stones are set unbacked to allow their magical properties to reach the skin of the wearer.



The entry by Anna Somers Cocks in Princely Magnificence (see references) includes the following interpretaion of the inscriptions:

'ANNANISAPTA DEI is a very common invocation, frequently engraved on 15th century rings, for example, and it was generally believed to ward off epilepsy. DETRAGRAMMATA, a version of TETRAGRAMMATON, refers to the four letters with which the name of God, Jahweh, is written in Hebrew. IHS, the abbreviation of the name Jesus, and less often MARIA, were used with similar amuletic intention.'
Historical context
The pendant, although resembling several drawings by Holbein, seems to have been a common type.
Subject depicted
Summary
The settings of the stones on this pendant are open at the back. This allows direct contact with the wearer's skin. According to medieval and Renaissance beliefs, the magical properties of the stones could thus benefit the wearer. Renaisance pendants were often made as amulets to protect against danger. Here, the power of the amulet is heightened by an inscription to ward off epilepsy and an invocation to God, Jesus and Mary.
Bibliographic References
  • Wheeler, Jo Renaissance secrets, recipes and formulas . London: V&A, 2009, p 79
  • Somers-Cock, Anna, Princely Magnificence: court jewels of the Renaissance, 1500-1630, V&A, 1981, pp 47-8, cat.8
Collection
Accession Number
M.242-1975

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record createdMarch 13, 2000
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