Sunday, January 22, 2017

Russian Jewels, or, Jewels in Russia

Earrings - Dolphins
Eastern Mediterranean
2nd century BC
gold, beryls, garnets
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Above my cradle loomed the bookcase where
Latin ashes and the dust of Greece
mingled with novels, history, and verse
in one dark Babel. I was folio-high
when I first head the voices. 'All the world,'
said one, insidious but sure, 'is cake 
let me make you an appetite to match,
and then your happiness need have no end.'
And the other: 'Come, O come with me in dreams
beyond the possible, beyond the known!'
that second voice sang like the wind in the reeds,
a wandering phantom out of nowhere, sweet
to hear yet somehow horrifying too.
'Now and forever!' I answered, whereupon
my wound was with me  ever since, my Fate:
behind the scenes, the frivolous decors
of all existence, deep in the abyss,
I see distinctly other, brighter worlds;
yet victimized by what I know I see,
I sense the serpent coiling at my heels . . .

 from The Voice, originally published among 'additional poems' in Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil (1857), with English translation by Richard Howard (1982)

Pendant - Ball of Serpents
France - René Lalique
enameled-gold, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Ornamental Hairpin
18th century
gold, silver, enamel, precious stones, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Pendant - Mars
ca. 1550
enameled-gold, silver, lapis lazuli, opals, rubies, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Necklace with pendant
Eastern Mediterranean
1st century BC
gold, amethysts, emeralds, topazes, almandines, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Pendant - Swan
ca. 1590
enameled-gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Brooch - Butterfly
ca. 1850-1900
enameled-gold, silver, diamonds, sapphires
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

"In post-Renaissance alchemy substances were often thought to be made of sulfur, mercury, and salt, or of the three principles together with the metals copper, iron, tin, lead, and gold. The Renaissance alchemist called Basil Valentine classifies gemstones this way: diamond, he says, is made of 'fixed coagulated mercury', while rock crystal is only made of ordinary mercury (Mercurio vulgi). Ruby is composed of the 'tincture of Mars' (Tinctura Martis) or 'sulfur of iron', emerald is the sulfur of Venus, granite the 'soul of Saturn' (Anima Saturni), and sapphire is composed of sulfur and the 'tincture of the moon' (Tinctur Lunae)."

– from What Painting Is : How to Think about Oil Painting, Using the Language of Alchemy by James Elkins (Routledge, 1999)

Pendant - Amphitrite on a dolphin
Western Europe - Renaissance-revival
ca. 1870-1890
enameled-gold, diamonds, rubies, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Pendant - Hippocamp
ca. 1600
enameled-gold, pearl
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Brooch - Stag Beetle
ca. 1908-1917
gold, diamonds, rubies, garnet, pearl
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Figurines of Ostrich and Keeper
Germany - Johann Melchior Dinglinger
ca. 1700-1725
silver, pearls, cameos, precious stones
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

The Chesme Snuffbox
Russia - Jean-Pierre Ador
enameled-gold, silver, diamonds, rubies
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Roman Empire
1st century AD
gold, pearls
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

Cameo - Medusa
Roman Empire
2nd-3rd century AD
sardonyx, gold
Hermitage, Saint Petersburg