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"Papal" Ring

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Rings of this type mostly date from the 15th and 16th centuries and are decorated with papal arms, mitres, crossed keys, and other ecclesiastical symbols. Their name is somewhat misleading, as it is unlikely that they were actually worn by the popes, given the quantities that were produced and the inexpensive materials used, which would not appeal to the papal taste for precious stones in lavish settings. Therefore, it remains unclear for whom these rings were intended. Their massive size adds to the mystery, as they probably would not have been worn for an extended time. One explanation is that they are meant as signs of authentication of the wearer, for example the bearer of diplomatic papers. This example bears the arms of Cardinal Gabriele Condolmerio (1408-1431), a cardinal's mitre, and a papal tiara. Thus the wearer could be carrying paper from the cardinal.
Date Description Narrative
10/15/1958Treatmentcleaned; coated
6/01/1983Examinationexamined for loan
  • The Medieval Craftsman and His Modern Counterpart. Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington; Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans. 1959.
  • Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
  • Illuminated Manuscripts: Masterpieces in Miniature. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985.
  • Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry from the Walters Art Museum. Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2006-2009.
  • Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry. El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso. 2010.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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1408-1431 (Renaissance)
gilded bronze, red stone
Accession Number
1 9/16 x 1 in. (4 x 2.6 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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