Lot 1
  • 1

Spanish, circa 1625-1630

Estimate
50,000 - 70,000 GBP
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • Pendant Cross of Jerusalem
  • partially enamelled gold, diamond and garnet
  • Spanish, circa 1625-1630

Provenance

Probably Thomas Hope (1769-1831) or Henry Philip Hope (1774-1839);
Henry Thomas Hope (1808-62), the eldest son and heir of Thomas Hope (1769-1831);
Harvey & Gore, Burlington Gardens, London, prior to 1972;
private collection, North America

Exhibited

London, South Kensington Museum, 1862

Literature

J. C. Robinson, Catalogue of the special exhibition of works of art of the Medieval, Renaissance, and more recent periods, on loan at the South Kensington Museum, London, 1862, p. 641, no. 7,283;
P. Muller, Jewels in Spain 1500-1800, New York, 2012, p. 130, illustrated fig. 218;
J. Kugel, Joyaux Renaissance, exh. cat., Kugel, Paris 2000, no. 58 (referred to)

Catalogue Note

This magnificent pendant is one of the finest early Spanish jewels to have been offered on the market in recent memory. The obverse takes the form of a Jerusalem Cross set with diamonds which are picked out with red and white cloisonné enamelled foliate adornments. To the reverse the pendant exhibits superb virtuoso cloisonné enamelling, with a red, blue, green and black decorative scheme of geometric patterns, set against a pure white ground and centered upon a large table cut garnet. The pendant is very rare, particularly given the remarkably good state of conservation of the enamelling.

The Cross finds a close technical and decorative parallel in the Victoria and Albert Museum's Pendant cross from the treasury of the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Pillar, Zaragoza (inv. no. 345-1870). This equally large pendant is entirely set with clear crystals to the obverse, with arabesques enlivened with red, green and white cloisonné enamelling. It takes a different form, being a cross within a crowned garter, but the similarities to the present jewel are confirmed to the reverse. Here again, we see the same dominant white ground with red, white and this time blue cloisonné patterns. In contrast to the present jewel, the V&A example is adorned entirely with decoration in the form of vegetal motifs, whereas the reverse of the present pendant is governed by abstract shapes: lozenges, rectangles, and triangles.

A very similar jewel is seen in a donor double portrait with San Jacobo de la Marca in the Museo Cerralbo, Madrid, published in La joya espanola (op. cit., p. 137). Note the same colourless stones and white and red enamelling, as well as the focus on abstract shapes. The Cerralbo cross appears simpler, with fewer stones, though this may simply have been artistic license on the part of the painter. The cross is, in fact, so close, that one wonders whether the two are the same. What is beyond doubt is that the present pendant, made of gold and composed of diamonds and incorporating enamelling of the highest quality, was surely owned by a leading member of the Spanish court.

The pendant finds parallels in surviving contemporary designs. Compare, for example, with the design from the Codex of Guadalupe, again published in La joya espanola (op. cit., p. 138; Codex of Guadalupe, fol. 36, no. 3). Note the same use of scrolls and arabesques to delimit the edge of the pendant. The present jewel, however, is distinguished by the linear shapes of the stones, in contrast to the Guadalupe design, which includes round and ovoid shapes. Further comparisons (in terms of overall design) can be found in a medallion with the Cross of Jerusalem in the Archaeological Museum, Madrid (inv. no. 52.345) and that from the Rütschi collection, Zurich (published in Joyaux Renaissance, op. cit., no. 58; the present example cited as a comparison). What distinguishes the present Cross, though, is the inclusion of diamonds instead of crystals, which indicates its high status as a piece of devotional jewellery.

The Cross fits the description of that in the catalogue of the 1862 works of art exhibition at the South Kensington Museum (the present day Victoria and Albert Museum):

No. 7,283. Gold enseigne or pendant, in form of a quatre- foil of diamonds, and in centre a diamond cross, the limbs of equal length, beautifully enamelled at the back, and in the centre of the cross a square garnet. Italian, 17th century.
Henry Thomas Hope, Esq.

Given the rarity of such jewels on this scale and the closeness of the description, it seems fair to conclude that the two are one and the same. The Hope provenance is compelling since the family were renowned for their holdings of important jewellery. Henry Thomas Hope (1808-1862) famously inherited the Hope Diamond from his uncle, the great jewellery collector, Henry Philip Hope (1774-1839). It remained in the family until it was sold by Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1866-1941). Henry Thomas' brother, Alexander Beresford Hope (1820-1887), owned the Beresford Hope Cross, a 9th-century Byzantine cloisonné enamelled pectoral crucifix, and one of the treasures of the V&A. The two were the sons of the celebrated Regency collector and designer Thomas Hope (1769-1831). 

It is unknown how the present jewel came into the hands of the Hope family. However, the most likely scenarios for the arrival of the jewel in England by the mid 19th century are the Napoleonic wars or the sale of treasuries from impoverished Spanish churches. Michael Hall has outlined how the Rothschild Benetier de Charlemagne came to sit on an elaborate enamelled gold Custodia commissioned by Philip II of Spain. Following the sacking of the Escorial by French soldiers, it was transported to England and sold in Mr Hermon's room in Conduit Street, along with a group of other treasures with the same provenance (Hall, op. cit., p. 392). The V&A's Zaragoza cross, on the other hand, came to London when it was acquired by the museum from the 1870 sale of the treasury of the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Pillar, Zaragoza (see Oman, op. cit.).

RELATED LITERATURE
M. C. di Natale, Ori e Argenti di Sicilia, Milan, 1989, no 12; La Joyeria Espanola de Felipe II a Alfonso XIII en Los Estatales, Madrid, 1998, pp. 137-138, no. 85; D.Watts and P. Hewat-Jaboor (eds), Thomas Hope: Regency Designer, exh. cat. Bard Graduate Center and Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2008; M. Hall, 'A splendid and probably Unique Pebble: the Benetier  de Charlemagne', Burlington Magazine, June 2012, pp. 388-393

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