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Lot 1691: Medieval Norman Gold Ring with Lion
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 11th-12th century AD. A gold ring with tapering shank, the lower part ridged, the bezel formed as a reclining lion stretched over shoulders of ring, front paws crossed, and with head turned to one side. 10 grams, 20.30mm overall, 14.75mm internal diameter (approximate ring size British H, USA 3 3/4, Europe 6.18, Japan 6) (3/4"). Ex Beale collection, Kent, UK; acquired on the UK art market. The style of the lion is similar to those depicted in the mosaics on the wall of the throne room of King Roger II at the royal palace, and the Palatine chapel, of Palermo, Sicily. It has been suggested that these were influenced by Sassanian imagery that would have been familiar to the Normans from their travels in the east as mercenaries under the Byzantine emperors.The lion also appears on a capital in the cloister court of Monreale, Sicily, on the shields of Saracen soldiers in the service of the King of Italy, and as a repeating motif on the exterior of the apse of Palermo Cathedral. Lions were commonplace in eleventh century art and sculpture and are often found associated with Norman royal families as a symbol of their court. The contemporary use of similar symbols in the Arab and Byzantine worlds, and the fact that Saracen architects designed some of the decoration for the Sicilian cathedrals, whose mosaics reflect Byzantine influences, suggests a kingdom that benefited from strong cultural and economic links with the wider world.
Condition Report: Very fine condition. Very rare.