Masterful ReligiousTheme Coral Hand Stickpin
Superlative carving of natural coral is enhanced with gold pique work and adorned with a tiny ring. Referred to as cameo habillé-- the use of precious metals set on or into cameos to represent jewelry. Piqué is the setting of metals into a medium such as tortoise shell or ivory and more rarely, coral.
Overall a Christian theme, the motif is a hand covered with a gauntlet or with armor. In a Papal or Christian gesture, two fingers up with the thumb upward is a blessing. Jesus is depicted in many paintings with this gesture as well as the Pope and other high officials of the church also using the sign. The gold ring is worn on the second finger mirroring the custom of some Popes. During the blessing the ring can be viewed, as the ring finger and pinkie are placed toward the palm. Of course if worn on the ring finger, the audience could not see the Papal or Official Ring of Office.
It is crafted in 18k gold with the original stickpin and is a wonderful use of gold piqué. Placed in an antique box of fair condition with the box quite worn and with one hole. Condition of the stickpin is excellent. Measures 3-1/4 inches long (8.2 cm); the hand itself to gold base bottom is 1 inch long (2.5 cm) and 3/8 of an inch wide (1 cm). Circa 19th century. Scarce.
Historical Art Note: You can see an image of this in such paintings as Jesus Consecrating Bread (artist unknown) and in early Byzantine works such as Ravenna mosaic, 6th c.: Jesus is portrayed gesturing a sign of the cross with his right hand facing outward, as a Christian priest giving a blessing.