RARE 16TH CENTURY ENAMEL AND GARNET TWO SIDED PORTRAIT MINIATURE PENDANT
RARE 16TH CENTURY ENAMEL AND GARNET TWO SIDED PORTRAIT MINIATURE PENDANT
RARE 16TH CENTURY ENAMEL AND GARNET TWO SIDED PORTRAIT MINIATURE PENDANT
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THE PROPERTY OF A NOBLE SCOTTISH FAMILY
RARE 16TH CENTURY ENAMEL AND GARNET TWO SIDED PORTRAIT MINIATURE PENDANT

Details
RARE 16TH CENTURY ENAMEL AND GARNET TWO SIDED PORTRAIT MINIATURE PENDANT
Opposing portrait miniatures depicting a male and female sitter respectively, blue, green and white enamel, circular cabochon and faceted bead garnets, gold, 3.9 cm

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Keith Penton
Keith Penton

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Lot Essay

A Scottish Heirloom

A rare Renaissance double-sided gold trefoil pendant, each lobe enclosing a dark blue cloisonné enamel crescent moon attached to a pair of dark green cloisonné confronted scrolls on a pounced ground, centred on a pair of oval miniature portrait busts to the front and reverse. A woman with a bilament in her dark hair, wearing a low-cut red dress with stand-up collar facing towards the left, is on one side, and on the other a man with a moustache and beard, a ruff at his neck and a black hat encircled with a band of jewelled buttons, his head turned towards the right. A cabochon garnet set between white enamel discs simulating pearls embellishes the spaces between each of the three crescents and three faceted garnets hang from the base. Attached to a rope twist ring, the trefoil is surmounted by a small suspension loop between a pair of volutes.
Given the extraordinary provenance of this jewel descending directly though the Earls of Darnley and the Dukes of Lennox to the present owner, it is highly likely that the portraits depict some of the most prominent members of the Scottish Court in the mid-late 16th Century. Although the miniatures have not been be definitively identified at this time, they could portray the youthful James VI and his wife Anne of Denmark or James VI and Mary, Queen of Scots, or indeed 1st Earl of Moray James Stewart and his wife Agnes who married in 1561.
This pendant compares with a group of miniatures traditionally associated with James VI and his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, also mounted as jewels, similarly decorated with cloisonné enamel scrolls and dated to the last decades of the sixteenth century. When they were exhibited at The Art of Jewellery in Scotland (ed. Rosalind Marshall and George Dalgleish, Scottish National Portrait Gallery,1991, no. 7) George Dalgleish suggested that these jewels could represent a specifically Scottish style of jewellery as there are no surviving equivalent examples from either England or Europe.
Although Scotland was not rich, this jewel, whomever it depicts, certainly shows that well-born men and women in Scotland were commissioning portrait jewels similar to those worn by their counterparts across the border. Moreover, the techniques of cloisonné enamelling, hammering, stone setting and faceting used in this pendant demonstrate that the goldsmiths clustered in their booths around the High Kirk of St. Giles in Edinburgh kept abreast of the times. The charm of this small scale jewel and the intimate portrayal of the two individuals represented gives it a distinctively private and personal character which explains why the descendants of the original owners have treasured it over so many generations up to the present day .

© Diana Scarisbrick MA FSA
October 2018

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