Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mastery of Design: A Carnelian Ring with an Intaglio of George IV, 1821

Intaglio Ring
Made for George IV, 1821
The Royal Collection

An intaglio (carving in hardstone) of carnelian is set in a gold ring with an open bezel, and a shaped lobed border. The shoulders of the ring are mounted at each side with two cabochon turquoises and a seed pearl forming a trefoil with, each with an applied gold stem. This ring was acquired by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, around 1958.

The intaglio depicts a laureate bust of King George IV (1762-1830) in profile to the right, wearing a tunic. The reverse of the intaglio is inscribed: GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA BRITT REX MDCCCXXI and the band is engraved: GEORGIUS HANOV: REX. SEPR. 1821. Clearly, this was made shortly after George IV’s coronation in 1821 and was most likely intended as a souvenir of the coronation which took place on 19 July 1821. The inscription on the band is curious in that it appears to commemorate George IV’s visit to Hanover that same year. There, he enjoyed a second coronation ceremony and was crowned King of Hanover—traditional for a male monarch at the time--to much celebration. After his brother, William the IV was King, their niece, Queen Victoria was crowned, but was not the Queen of Hanover since the throne of Hanover could not be held by a woman.

George IV enjoyed being depicted as a Roman emperor, and such images were often produced in a variety of media He also enjoyed jewelry and spent heavily at the Royal goldsmiths of the era, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, on numerous rings, lockets and medallions for presentation to his family and courtiers as souvenirs.

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