Rare and Fine Enamel Plaque & Necklace - c. 1650
We are very proud to present an exceptionally rare enamel figural plaque and necklace of the mid 17th century. Continental in origin, this still retains a magnificent chain with enameled decoration, and a superb clasp.
Chain making is something which on the surface can be perceived as mundane – merely a backdrop for hanging a pendant. But in fact can be the most creative, versatile and varied of jewelry making elements. Entirely hand made, this rare necklace employs one of the most intricate and unusual types of chain - one that you will probably never see the likes of again. Dating to the mid 17th century, this chain is made of near 24 k gold. Round circlets of gold are dimpled with puffed texture and joined together to form vertical rows of four each. Tiny orbs of gold dot each juncture. These are then placed side by side and joined with hand wrought circles of gold to form flat sections. At the top and bottom of each section are florets of gold with tiny gold stamen centers, and filled with black and white enamel. The flowers demarcate the linking of each section. The entire necklace measures 13 7/16 inches long (34 cm long) by between ½ and 9/16 inches wide at the chain.
At each side of the plaque are two filigree elements of the most ornate and fine workmanship. Of swirls and coils of gold they link the plaque to the chain. Swirled with gold filigree and floral and flora, the clasp is a small masterpiece in itself. The form is an oval. The surface is raised with miniscule filigree work. Each end is a tiny white flower of four petals, in the center a large black flower of five inner petals and six (6) outer petals with white dots and white center. Intricate designs encrust the entire surface as well. It measures 11/16 inches wide (1.8 cm) by 5/8 of an inch high (1.6 cm) and approximately 5/16 inches thick.
The central plaque is breathtaking in its adept artistry. It depicts a reclining female figure robbed in royal blue with a long cloth of jonquil yellow and maroon stones. She sits amongst clouds of violet, and at her feet rests an enrapt putti. In her hand is a staff held aloft. Over her is a winged angel with a flowing green scarf and dressed in rose toned robes. A wreath of leaves is on her head. The plaque is very fine enamel in oval form. It is set with a serrated edges crimped collet. Surrounding his are tiny pillows of enamel in black and rose in which appear to be in tulip form. Tulips were cultivated for medicinal purposes in Amsterdam in 1593 and merchants caught on to the flower’s beauty and rarity. They were cultivated commercially and became the rage of the 17th century and tulip mania swept Europe. Not only were the flowers a passion and were purchased with abandon, but the motif appears on a great deal of jewelry throughout the century, as well as other decorative arts. The back of the enamel is an opaque white ground in which one can view the blue undersurface of the metal. It is thoughtfully decorated in rose tones with a tiny pattern in the center and at four points (one now missing) as there were four (4) raised beads of enamel to hold the gold work. The plaque in entirety measures 1 1/8 inches long by 7/8 inches high (2.8 by 2.3 cm). The inner pictorial scene measures 7/8 of an inch wide by 5/8 inches high (2.3 cm by 1.5 cm).
The painting is of particular note. The 17th century enamelists reached a type of perfection in portraying scenes that has never been reproduced since. The enamelists works by layering powdered glass pigments and firing each successive color and tone. The amount of precision and skill required to render this type of spatial realism, skin tones, flowing cloths and emotion is hard to comprehend. This is one of the finer enamel plaques of its day. Note that the eyes and expressions impart emotional reality, that the robes appear twisted and turned in space, the figures appear lifelike and with depth. An extra ordinary accomplishment in an area about the size of a quarter!
Condition: The central plaque has enamel loss to the central upper border of tulips. The entire surface is in fine condition with very minor surface wear evident. The reverse (as noted previously) has one knob of enamel missing which hold the gold collet. This does not affect its security or integrity within the gold. The side elements are of a lighter color of gold than the chain and match more closely the gold work of the plaque itself. The gold chain: is of a deeper gold tone than the plaque; one flower has one petal missing enamel which is located at the back next to the clasp slide and one minute chip on another petal above this. The sections are in a variety of lengths, some four some five and are not matched perfectly on each side. A few inner links are replaced or missing. The clasp is in excellent condition but has two holes for linking to the chain which are vacant.
Please email us with any questions or for further photos. Not to be missed!
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