Description This jeweled marten's head is nearly identical to that attached to the fur held by the countess in Veronese's portrait of Countess da Porto (Walters 37.541). The animal was associated with childbirth, and wearing its fur was believed to increase a woman's fertility and protect her during pregnancy. Since antiquity, the marten had been thought to conceive through its ear or mouth (and therefore chastely). The dove on the creature's nose may be a symbol of the Holy Ghost and further allude to Mary's miraculous conception. This would add to the amulet's protective powers.
The head is made by repousse and chasing the gold sheet. It is decorated with en ronde bosse or encrusted enamel work and set with seed pearls, ruby and garnets. The whiskers and pelt were attached in 2005 and are not original.
|11/02/2017||Examination||Examined for loan|
- World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
- Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
- Illuminated Manuscripts: Masterpieces in Miniature. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985.
- Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
- At Home in Renaissance Italy. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 2006-2007.
Provenance John Hunt, Dublin, Ireland; Walters Art Museum, 1967, by exchange.
Credit Museum acquisition by exchange, 1967
Download Image Add to Collection Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Creative Commons License