Offered by Matthew Holder
European Works of Art & Sculpture
A Renaissance gold and enamel pendant of the Pelican in her piety.
Spanish, late 16th – early 17th century.
Measures 8.8 x 3.2 x 1.4cm.
The pelican is shown with outstretched wings, perched upon a branch and about to pierce her breast. The pendant is extensively decorated in champlevé white, green and blue enamels with a large garnet cabochon set within her breast. Chains attached to each of the birds wings are decorated with pearls and are suspended from a single pendant bail in the form of stylised urn, from which suspends a baroque pearl and further pearls are suspended from the birds feet and wings.
This enamelled gold pendant represents a subject known as 'The Pelican in her Piety'. It refers to the medieval fable of the pelican drawing blood from its own breast to feed its young. This image is used to symbolise Christ sacrificing himself on the cross to redeem the world's sins. It was associated with Elizabeth as mother of her nation. The queen owned several pelican jewels set with rubies or garnets.
Eagle Pendant, circa 1600-1630. Collection of the Hispanic Museum & Library, New York, accession Number: R3499
The Pelican in her Piety Pendant, ca. 1550-1575. Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number; 335-1870
Enamelled gold pendant in the form of an eagle, late 16th century. Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, accession number; M.243-1975
Pendant in the form of a parrot, late 16th–early 17th century. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Accession Number: 1982.60.390
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