A ring full of tension

Antique ring with classicistic Lagenstein gem of Tacitus, around 1790

The tensions of the late 18th century, the struggle between the ancien régime and the bourgeois right, between baroque drama and classicist austerity, exuberance and enlightenment - all this is evident in this ring. For the jewel, designed in the cool and clear formal language of classicism, holds a cameo of the Roman emperor Tacitus. The tension is created between the aesthetics of the ring itself and the choice of subject. For the simple ring is clearly committed to the aesthetic associated with the rejection of baroque exuberance and the value system associated with it. Last but not least, the old costumes of the 18th century, which conveyed the values of absolutism, were still worn at European royal houses well into the 19th century, and courtly jewellery accordingly remained largely conservative. Explicitly, however, some Enlightenment theorists such as Winckelmann preferred Greek antiquity. The democratic orders of the city-states in ancient Greece were one reason for this; after all, absolutist rulers had often deliberately staged themselves as Roman emperors to emphasize their God-given status. Among the Roman emperors, Tacitus also achieved fame, although he reigned for barely a year, from 275 to 276. Then, as now, he is staged as an emperor who restored the aristocratic republic with patricians as officeholders, as well as the old position of power of the Senate. Here his portrait is reproduced in Lagenstein, in elaborate, three-dimensional cut. He can be clearly identified by his hair and beard. But how can this tension within the ring be explained? Was it purely a fashion statement, regardless of any political or philosophical connotations? Did the original wearer of the ring intend to express his admiration for ancient pictorial art in general, or did he even intend to offer a silent critique? The only certainty is that the choice of the ring was a deliberate one, as it was once made as an individual commission or according to a pattern book, to fit snugly against the gem.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.