This spring, the King Baudouin Foundation purchased via the Christian Bauwens Fund a golden cluster ring with diamonds at The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht. It concerns a very rare ring from the 17th century with an engraved portrait of a young man accompanied by an enamel figurine in the case of the ring. The interpretation of the enameled figurine is unclear but presumably refers to a secret love garden.
Later this year the ring will be added to the permanent exhibition of DIVA, the museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver in Antwerp. The cluster ring is an important addition to DIVA´s 17th century jewellery collection. Until now mainly cluster rings with a round rosette, similar to the ones painted on Dutch portraits, are preserved in diverse collections. Locket rings with a miniature portrait are very rare.
This cluster ring had been purchased at the international art fair TEFAF in Maastricht (NL) and comes from a Belgian Private Collection.
"Thanks to the Christian Bauwens Fund, administrated by the King Baudouin Foundation, this extremely rare and mysterious ring could by acquired to fill a lacuna in the public 17th century jewellery collections." (King Baudouin Foundation)
A secret love garden?
The unclear interpretation of the enameled figurine gives the ring a mysterious character. The ring can be interpretated as a memento mori or an engagement ring. On the one side the figurine could refer to the risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene as a gardener. But in that case he is most of the times holding or leaning on a shovel. On another side it could refer to fertility or rebirth of the nature after winter. The rope on the shoulders symbolizes his devotion to his love, represented by a rose.
Cut diamonds and hidden colours
The narrow golden ring, with chiseled and black enamelled decoration on the shoulders, carries an oval case with cover, with a brown table diamond on top, in a high setting with a milled edge. The central diamond is surrounded by ten smaller diamonds of diverse cuts (square and irregular table diamonds, facetted stones and a flat rose) in a closed setting. The bottom of the case is decorated with symmetrically arranged leaves and flower speckles in black, white, and rose enamel on a blue background. The inside of the cover displays an engraved portrait of a young man. Inside the case with green background, a little figure, a garderner, is depicted with a rope around the shoulders and a rose flower in front of the lower part of his body.
The costume of the engraved portrait can be situated in the last decades of the 17th century. The same is applicable on the table facetted stone.
Goud, enamel, diamonds
Weight 6,6 gr
Circumference 42,13 mm
Coll. King Baudouin Foundation, Christian Bauwens Fund, in depot at DIVA, inv. B512/25
Copyright photos: Les Enluminures Ltd.
Christian Bauwens Fund - King Baudouin Foundation
Creation and promotion of a collection of art and antiques entrusted to public collections. At the request of museums, the fund will purchase small-scale objects from all civilisations and periods. Find out more.