A late Medieval Frankish silver ring, ca 15th century AD


a fine example of Medieval style, this ring is a heavy silver treasure. Its bezel loops upwards to hold in place a hexagonal polyhedron with a single point atop. The silver tipped point is a common axis to two ornate overlapping crosses that form a flower-like motif. Within each petal, the sides of the polyhedron are decorated with incised leaflike patterns, all oriented toward the central axis. The topside pattern is encircled by a golden border, dividing it from the underbelly, whose six panels are decorated with finely carved and repetitive curling patterns, evocative of the scroll and acanthus patterns of ancient Greece. These aspects together form a sort of artificial metal stone where a gem might appear in other types of jewelry. Further, around the shank (band) of the ring are alternating rectangular and triangular protrusions, the rectangular ones being decorated with similar curling patterns that enclose incised cross-hatching.

This ring is a later example of Frankish jewelry, its ornate sophistication demonstrates a long developing style of ring that can be traced through a series of much earlier pieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Medieval Art collection. Firstly, the overlapping cross motif can be seen in an example from Northern France circa 500-550 AD, accession number 17.191.275. The similarity lies in the overlapping of panels toward a central axis. Second and most alike to the ring of discussion is a ring also from Northern France circa 600 AD, accession number 17.192.226. Here we can see the centerpiece begin to take three-dimensional form toward a single point atop the center. It also implies the same triangular petal/panels in cross-form that orient toward the aforementioned center. The ring also has a version of the alternating pattern along the band. Finally, the latest example is simple in form but still reflects the Frankish tendency toward a polyhedron centerpiece with a single point at the top-most of the ring. Through accession number 17.192.231 of circa 700 AD, a stylistic inclination toward pointed metal pieces shaped like modern gemstones is seen again. Clearly more refined than these significantly earlier examples, the fine detail in the late-Medieval ring is a product of evolving Frankish tradition.



Dimensions: US ring size: 8; UK: Q


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