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The Art of the Ring (Hardback)

Highlights from the Griffin Collection

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Art History Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Decorative Arts & Crafts

Imprint: Ad Ilissvm
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 250
ISBN: 9781915401069
Published: 15th February 2024
Casemate UK Academic


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The distinguished private collection, known as the Griffin Collection, comprises in its entirety examples of every category of ring – signet, devotional, memorial, decorative – dating from antiquity to modern times. This catalogue focuses on about one hundred special rings, chosen as highlights of this extensive collection with the aim to offer the reader a real history of the art of the ring across the ages.

Covering as they do so many facets of civilization, rings tell us more about the hopes, aspirations, taste and sentiments of our ancestors than any other jewels surviving from the past. Moreover, the examples from the Griffin Collection, which have been assembled with taste and discernment over several decades, are not only rare but also of unusually high quality and intrinsic value. As well as being aesthetically attractive, these rings offer us a glimpse into the lives of their owners, as becomes evident in the vivid account offered by Diana Scarisbrick, one of the world’s leading jewellery historians.

The collection illustrates the many uses of rings—as seals needed for business, in expressing religious belief, political loyalties and personal interests such as theatre going, hunting, classical art and astrology. Some demonstrate high rank and commemorate great historical occasions; others dating from the Middle Ages to Victorian England mark the major events of human existence – love, marriage and death – with rings bearing symbols and inscriptions. Often connected with historical figures, monarchs, notably Charles II and William IV or Isabella Zápolya, Queen of Hungary, but also with popes or artists, such as the Romantic poet Lord Byron. Each ring reveals personal information about the people who wore them and the societies in which they lived. An unusually high proportion of the rings have distinguished later provenance, coming from celebrated collectors: George Spencer 4th Duke of Marlborough, Constantine Ionides, Ernest Guilhou, Ralph Harari and Maurice de Rothschild.

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