A gold ring set with a Romanesque sardonyx cameo of a bird.
Italian, 12th - 13th century.
The ring measures P UK / 7.5 US.
The cameo measures 2 x 1.5cm.
The sardonyx cameo is set within a historic silver mount which is further set into a modern high carat gold ring.
The subject of the bird and its composition strongly relates to architecture, manuscripts and objects (both secular and liturgical) throughout Europe during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries (see references).
This intriguing cameo may relate to cameos with avian subjects made in Southern Italy (probably Naples or Palermo) at the Court of Frederick II Hohenstaufen. The existence of several Hohenstaufen gems with eagle subjects is both a testament to the dynastic significance of this symbol to Frederick II and to his deep interest in falconry. Over the course of thirty years the Emperor wrote the De Arte Venandi cum Avibus, an extensive treatise on falconry and ornithology. The court of Frederick II Hohenstaufen (r. 1215–50) actively promoted the creation and collection of works, such as these cameos, linking Frederick’s reign with the imperial past.
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