Friday, November 25, 2011

Gold Rosaries

After making my earlier rosary with its inaccurate but sweet smelling beads full of fun memories with my children I started seeing them in lots of Italian portraits. One I find most intriguing is Moretto de Brescia's Lady in White.
The dress is 1540's and such an interesting mix of things, but the two parts I am most enamored with are her giant gold rosary and the fact that her earrings aren't earrings. Instead, in a way very like Rus temple rings, they dangle from the hair ornament down in front of her ears. I'd really like to try doing a similar hair ornament, but right now lets look at the rosary. It hangs clear down the front of her dress, ending in a 3 bead tassel with a little white bow. Chris Laning over at Paternaster Row mentioned it on her blog but I haven't found much else. I had gold beads, but certainly not large enough ones to create something nearly that long. I went looking at other gold rosaries to see if anything further inspired me. I ran across the Langdale Rosary at the V&A (m.30-1934) It's one of the only surviving 16th century English rosaries.
I love the lozenge shaped beads that act as the gauds in this piece. The beads themselves are just amazing. Each is decorated with 2 saints. There are similar early 16th century gold Italian beads with "Ave" carved into them. They're currently held at the Cleavland Museum of Art. They also end in a little bow. I'm not sure if that is surviving or a product of later restringing, but the single decade rosary terminating in a pink ribbon is rather beautiful.
As I'm not a master goldsmith, beads like that are way out of the realms of possibility, but I did have some heavy gold beads with a bit of filigree on the surface. I'd used some of them for my IRCC hairpins, which was unfortunate since it meant that I no longer had the 50 required for a 5 decade rosary, which is what da Brescia's Lady was wearing. Additionally, even if I had 50, they just wouldn't give me the length required. I didn't necessarily want it to hang all the way down to the end of the bodice, but it needed to be longer than a standard necklace.

Then I ran across a gold rosary that had belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. It had non-counted spacer beads between each of the beads in each decade.

So, I decided to go ahead with a combination of the things I liked about each rosary while working with what I had on hand. I used the heavy gold filigreed beads with a few similar gold beads added to fill up the number to 50. The size is similar, and since I had decided to do flat vaguely diamond shaped gauds the difference between the aves and gauds is significant enough I felt it wasn't an issue. I strung everything on black silk with small rice shaped gold filigree beads for spacers, leaving a little space for the beads to move freely. I had a filigree pendant found in the bottom of a bag of junk jewelry, and I threaded a bit of ribbon through it and tied it in a bow for the concluding tassel

I'm rather pleased with the results of the mash-up of the various rosaries and think its a pretty necklace in its own right. Once I don't have budget constraints I think I'll pick up some silk ribbon for the terminal, but that's all that I might change.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely rosary! I might have to make something similar!