Prudence

hb_17.190.907

Enamel on reverse after a design by Étienne Delaune, French, Paris,  ca. 1550–60, back: 19th century, Chalcedony, mounted in gold with enamel, rubies, emeralds, diamond, and pearl, Overall, with pendant pearl, without bail: 3 3/16 x 1 7/8 in. (8.2 x 4.8 cm); Overall, central commesso (confirmed): 1 9/16 x 1 7/16 in. (4 x 3.6 cm); 40 x 34.7 mm

One of the four cardinal virtues, Prudence gazes into a mirror while holding a snake—attributes symbolizing, respectively, her self-knowledge and her wisdom. The pendant is an example of the Italian commesso technique, in which carved gemstones are combined with gold and enamel to create figural compositions. The enamel on the reverse, a nineteenth-century addition, is after a design by Étienne Delaune (1518/19–1583).

hb_17.190.907_av1

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