- Museum number
Finger-ring; gold; hoop enamelled in white on shoulders, which are pierced, design including fleur-de-lis; oval bezel ornamented on back and sides with enamel; ruby cut in cameo with female bust in classical style to right, with drapery over the head.
- Production date
Diameter: 1.04 inches
Length: 0.70 inches (bezel)
Weight: 85 grains
- Curator's comments
- Text from Dalton 1915, Catalogue of Engraved Gems:
Mounted in an enamelled gold ring of the early eighteenth century.
Formerly in the Hertz Collection (Catalogue, 1859, no. 2744).
The Victoria and Albert Museum possesses an intaglio portrait of Mme. de Maintenon on carnelian (no. 234-'65).
Supplementary information to Dalton 1915:
The wood engravings by R B Utting for the Braybrooke catalogue were used in Dalton.
The bust is no longer thought to depict Madame de Maintenon.
Drawings from Dalton reproduced in Diana Scarisbrick, 'Rings: Symbols of power, wealth and affection', London 1993, p. 81.
According to the Braybrooke catalogue 'Cameo Portrait of Madame de Maintenon, on a very large and fine ruby, three-eighths-of-an-inch high, by half-an-inch wide, in a most beautiful gold ring, contemporaneous setting: presented to Louis XIV, when she retired into the Convent of St Cyr. Mr Herz paid £60 for it; bought at his sale, 1859.
Note in margin in pencil 'lot 2744, £27.10.'
Text from Ward, Cherry et al, 'The Ring from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century,' London 1981, pl. 238.
This ring is set with a ruby-cameo portrait-bust of Madame de Maintenon (1635-1719), who was secretly married to Louis XIV in 1684. (See comment above, however). In a period in France conspicuous for widespread criticsm of the King's financial policies and for the waste of money and resources that resulted from the wars with the Netherlands, Madame de Maintenon was scrupulously modest in her appearance and never sought to take the place of a queen, refusing to accept or use any of the crown jewels, but even so she was always unpopular with the king's subjects.
Cameo-set jewellery is rare in the seventeenth century, because the art of cameo-cutting, so highly regarded in the Renaissance, was eclipsed by the growing interest in facet-cutting and only revived in the mid eighteenth century. Nonetheless, cameos have always been prized as works of art, and there is virtually no period since antiquity when they were completely out of favour.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number