Portrait Jewels

Portrait Jewels

Opulence and Intimacy from the Medici to the Romanovs

  1. Diana Scarisbrick
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  • ISBN 9780500515570
  • 22.40 x 21.60 cm
  • Hardback
  • 352pp
  • 356 Illustrations, 341 in colour
  • First published 2011
‘Extraordinary gems liven up every page … filled with dazzling illustrations and a well-researched text, which is bound to delight those with an interest in priceless treasures and fine craftsmanship’ – The Birmingham Post
‘Diana Scarisbrick reveals a lifetime of knowledge … an illuminating and elegant survey … a visual and scholarly feast’ – Apollo
‘A celebration … The sumptuous images of these colourful and precious objects, many reproduced at actual size, make this production a pleasure to handle and glance through … [Diana Scarisbrick] writes with authority about these fragile and luxurious objects’ – The Art Newspaper

From the Renaissance to the end of the Belle Epoque, miniature portraits of famous personalities – political, military, literary, artistic – and of private individuals inspired jewelers to design precious settings to enhance their beauty and emphasize their significance.

The jewels bring to life five centuries of extraordinary events and personalities, and illustrate a fascinating aspect of the history of jewelry.

The story begins in the sixteenth century with the Medici and other powerful dynasties, and ends just before the fall of the Romanovs. Rings, pendants, lockets, bracelets and objets de luxe set with cameos, intaglios, medals and miniatures: the desire for these jeweled portraits was international, ranging from Lisbon to Moscow, from Stockholm to Naples, from London to Paris to New York.

Diana Scarisbrick draws upon her knowledge of jewelry, painting, history and literature to set the portrait jewels in the context of people's lives, and shows how they were worn and what they meant to donors and recipients – tokens of allegiance to a ruler, of commitment between lovers, of affection within families.

Diana Scarisbrick is a historian of jewelry and engraved gems. Revealing what they signified to those who commissioned and wore these precious works of art has been the theme of the exhibitions she has curated and of her many books, which include Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty.