The Portland Vase, £5.00
Height: 7.600 cm (including loop)
Gift of Professor and Mrs John Hull Grundy
M&ME Hull Grundy Catalogue 1018
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Enamelled gold pendant after Raphael
Bologna, Italy, around AD 1900
Designed by Alfonso Rubbiani for Italian Arts & Crafts group, 'Æmilia Ars' and made by Luigi Marchi
The centre of this quatrefoil jewel is a blue-stained chalcedony, surrounded by four lobes, each with three circles of translucent red enamel on an engraved gold ground with scalloped border. The reverse is decorated with red and blue enamel, and the inscription in gold lettering, 'RAPHAEL CÆCILIAE CÆCILIA TIBI: QV.' (As Raphael to Cecilia, so Cecilia [gives] to you). This pendant is a faithful copy of the jewel worn by St Cecilia in Raphael's painting of 1514, La Sacra Conversazione, in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna, and the inscription suggests the pendant was a special commission for a woman named Cecilia.
The use of paintings as a source for jewellery design was extremely rare in Italy, and reflects the continuing practice in Europe of the historical revival, in this instance working to a Renaissance style. In 1898 the society 'Æmilia Ars' was set up in Bologna to improve the standards of artistic design. Alfonso Rubbiani was its most important designer. The society not only provided designs and models for furniture, porcelain, embroidery and metalwork, but also carried out the production of these items. Luigi Marchi (1824-1906) is known to have run his workshop from 1854 to 1888, followed by his son Raffaelle Angelo (1855-1909).
C. Gere and others, The art of the jeweller: a cat, 2 vols. (, 1984)