Pendant with hawking party

WB.177     1825–57 • Enamelled gold • pendant

Very similar to a fake jewel from the collection of Charles Sauvageot, a customs official and a violinist in the orchestra in the Opéra Comique in Paris. Sauvageot made a significant collection of Renaissance works of art, which he gave to the Louvre in 1856. Baron Ferdinand admired him as a collector.

Curator's Description

Pendant jewel; gold; set with rubies and two diamonds; openwork; lady and gentleman riding white horse; clothes enamelled; gentleman with falcon on wrist; enclosed within circle closely set with rubies and having three pendant pearls; enamelled back; triple suspension chain set with rubies and pearls.

This object was previously owned by Londesborough and Woodburn, and collected and bequeathed to the British Museum by Ferdinand Anselm Rothschild.

How big is it?

4.2 cm wide, 8.1 cm high, 1 cm deep, and it weighs 29g

Detailed Curatorial Notes

See below for previous Tait catalogue entry from 1986. This object is now thought to be 19th century, made in Paris or London, on account of its similarity to a fake jewel from the collection of Charles Sauvageot, a customs official and a violinist in the orchestra in the Opéra Comique in Paris. Sauvageot made a significant collection of Renaissance works of art, which he gave to the Louvre in 1856.

Origin: Uncertain; Hungarian (?), or perhaps French; previously attributed to the late 16th century, but perhaps no older than the second quarter of the 19th century.

Provenance: “Exhibited by Mr Woodburn” in Table XII in the Conservatory of 144 Piccadilly, London, in 1850; Collection of Lord Londesborough (before 1857).

Commentary: This exceptional pendant has, through the publications of Yvonne Hackenbroch in 1965 and 1979, become one of the keystones of that tiny group of South German Renaissance jewels thought to be after the designs of Jost Amman (1539-91), the Zurich-born artist who spent most of his working life in Nuremberg. Jost Amman had close links with the world of goldsmiths, for his elder brother was a member of the craft and Jost himself married in 1574 Barbara Wilck, the widow of a Nuremberg goldsmith. However, he is known not as a designer of jewellery or goldsmiths' work but as an artist; indeed, in 1577 he was granted citizenship of Nuremberg “als Maler und Kupferstueckreisser sei er mit seiner Kunst beruchmt und trefflich”. He had in 1560 joined the Nuremberg workshop of the engraver and artist Virgil Solis (1514-62) and on the latter's sudden death in 1562 was able to develop existing good connections with the Frankfurt publisher Feyerabend. Jost Amman's own publications were all produced in Frankfurt – ‘Imagines Artium’ (1568), ‘Ein Meuw Thierbuch’ (1569) and ‘Kunst und Lehrbuechlein’ (1578). His woodcuts were used to illustrate, for example, scenes from the Bible and ancient history, as well as books on costume, heraldry, herbals and cookery. The great popularity of the 1569 ‘Ein Meuw Thierbuch’ ('A New Book of Animals') was in part due to the explanatory verses of Georg Schaller, but the very appealing quality of Jost Amman's woodcuts of the animals undoubtedly contributed to its success - five reprintings in fifty years.

According to Yvonne Hackenbroch, the design source of this jewel's equestrian group depicting a gentleman hawking with his lady companion riding pillion is one of the woodcuts by Jost Amman in the ‘Kunst und Lehrbuechlein’ ('The Book of Art and Teaching'), which was first published in 1578 (see Hackenbroch 1979, p. 153, where the woodcut is misleadingly described as “a lady and gentleman riding a horse”, and figs 408-9).

In fact, the woodcut depicts a very different scene: firstly, it is not a hawking scene, and there is neither a falcon nor any item relating to the sport of falconry to be seen in the woodcut. Secondly, there are two horses, the nearer being ridden side-saddle by a lady and the other by a gentleman wearing a cloak with a large high collar. Thirdly, the gentleman and the lady are shown in the woodcut riding alongside each other, without any physical contact, let alone any form of embrace. If Jost Amman's woodcut was known to the goldsmith, then he departed from the normal Renaissance practice and, instead of copying it more or less faithfully, he completely transformed the subject into a hawking scene in which a falcon rests on the man's wrist and the lady shares the horse as a pillion rider and, at the same time, becomes an amorous distraction for the gentleman. Such a fundamental re-interpretation of a print source is quite exceptional and raises the question of the existence of an alternative source. Indeed, the view that this woodcut is the 'design source' for the goldsmith who made this jewel is even less tenable when the jewel is compared with a later Jost Amman woodcut that does depict a lady riding pillion and holding on to the gentleman's chest by putting her right arm under his. This woodcut, which was published in ‘Wappen und Stammbuch’ (Frankfurt am Main, 1589), shows certain major differences: the horse is galloping, there are no references to hawking or falcons, and the two riders do not have their heads twisted round in the opposite direction to their bodies. However, the goldsmith would have been forced to resort to this rather unnatural solution in order to show the faces of the riders looking at each other. It remains an open question whether it would have been necessary for a Renaissance goldsmith to adapt this Jost Amman woodcut so extensively, when another source, explicitly depicting a hawking scene, was probably readily available. Pictorial representations of lords and ladies enjoying the sport of falconry in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have, fortunately, survived, and perhaps none is more justly famous than the miniature for the month of August in the ‘Très Riches Heures’ of the duc de Berry (Musée Condé, Chantilly). Painted by the Limbourg Brothers, c. 1415, for the Duke, uncle of Charles VI of France and one of the greatest patrons of the arts, this miniature depicts a courtly cavalcade out hawking with two of the three ladies riding pillion behind their respective gentlemen, on whose wrists may be seen the falcons. The ladies ride side-saddle, and the elegant couple at the rear are shown deep in conversation, the man's head turned so that he can gaze on the lady's beautiful face. The theme of an amorous companion riding pillion while out enjoying the sport of hawking had already been captured by the Limbourg brothers almost 200 years before the jewel could have been fashioned. In Elizabethan England Turberville's ‘Book of Falconry’ (1575) was generously illustrated, though not in colour, and no doubt every court in Europe had its specially illustrated books on this great sport of kings. There is no reason, therefore, to strain credulity and claim that this jewel's hawking scene must be derived from Jost Amman's woodcuts of quite different equestrian groups or, equally, that the jewel has any definite links with the Nuremberg circle of Jost Amman or the workshops of Southern Germany. Any such attribution would have to be argued on the more usual criteria of technical and stylistic characteristics.

Significantly, one other pendant jewel with the identical figure group on horseback has long been known and was referred to in Read 1902 (p. 84, no. 177). It is preserved in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, but was first published in ‘Collection Sauvageot’ by A. Sauzay and E. Lièvre (Paris, 1863, no. 350, pl. v) as an example of Nuremberg work. However, Read noted that it was elsewhere described as Italian, and according to Alfred Darcel, it was a work of French origin (see J.J. Marquet de Vasselot, ‘Orfèvrerie, Emaillerie et Gemmes’, Musée du Louvre (Paris, 1914, p. 68, no. 375). In some respects the Sauvageot jewel differs significantly from the Londesborough/ Waddesdon pendant, for the figure group is not set within a circular frame nor set against a background of any kind. However, the very close similarities between the two equestrian figure groups, both depicting the same amorous hawking scene, is indicative of a common origin. The location of the workshop that produced these two jewels is no more firmly established now than it was 100 years ago. However, recent research tends to reinforce the view that it is unlikely that two jewels with identical figure groups both date from the Renaissance.

The illustration of the Louvre's jewel reproduced here (see p. 99) is taken from the 1863 publication of the Sauvageot Collection because it clearly records the extraordinary way in which it was necessary not only to attach the horse's head to the chain (in front) but to fix a long hook to the lady's left shoulder and link it to the chain (at the back) in order to give the jewel stability. A close study of this jewel and its decorative setting for the figure group raises the most serious doubts about its authenticity. If, as seems most likely, the Sauvageot jewel is no older than the nineteenth century, then the question arises whether it was based on the Londesborough jewel that was already in London by 1850 at the latest, or whether both have a common origin in a workshop of the first half of the nineteenth century.

The foreground of the Londesborough/ Waddesdon version of this hawking scene is exceptional in its use of cut-down tree-trunks, fern-like foliage and the three disproportionately large flowers shown singly, each on a long stem. This very distinctive treatment of the ground beneath the horse's legs is certainly not derived from the Jost Amman woodcuts, where a bare, slightly rocky, ground is depicted, nor is it to be found in the repertoire of late sixteenth-century jewellers. Indeed, the use of a 'cut-out' relief of enamelled gold, to be seen ajouré within a circular frame, is an unusual form for a pendant jewel, of which at least seven have been recorded. Two very similar roundel ajouré pendants, one with the Pelican in its Piety and the other with a parrot (in the centre of the circular ring), were lent from the collection of Ghéza Karasz to the 1884 Budapest Great Exhibition (see C. Pulszky, E. Radisics and E. Molinier, ‘Chefs d'oeuvre d'orfèvrerie ayant figuré à l'Exposition de Budapest’, 2 vols, Budapest, Paris, New York and London, 1884-6, pp. 17-18 with illus). A related parrot pendant of this ajouré roundel type is preserved in the Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio (see Hackenbroch 1979, fig. 841, where it is classified as originating in Spain, “end of 16th century”, but is not discussed in the text); two similar examples were in the Karl von Rothschild Collection in 1885 (see F. Luthmer, ‘Der Schatz’, pls 32-3) and a third was in the Lord Astor of Hever Collection (Christie's, London, 27 Nov. 1979, lot 173, col. illus.). In the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano (see Somers Cocks and Truman 1984, p. 106, no. 19) a closely related example is said to be a gift from the Countess Batthyany, though oddly no other details about the donor or the jewel's earlier history are given. However, as the fake Minerva pendant jewel in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (no. 41) is associated in the ‘Catalogue’ (p. 160) with a similar jewel lent to the 1884 Budapest Exhibition by Count Elemér Batthyany, it may be assumed that he is an ancestor of the Countess who made the gift of the parrot pendant. Yet another bird pendant jewel of this type was lent to the 1884 Budapest Exhibition, though the name of its owner was omitted from the ‘Catalogue’ and, consequently, only the one line-drawing of it in the 1884 ‘Catalogue’ has been available for comparison with the Londesborough/ Waddesdon jewel. Even so, it establishes beyond doubt that the design of the circular frame, the triple suspension chains and the 'cartouche' are all the same; only the pearls projecting to the left and the right of the ring are missing from the Waddesdon version -apparently already lost before it had entered Lord Londesborough's collection in the early 1850s.

The links which many of the jewels in this group have with Hungary seem to indicate that their very distinctive qualities may be due to a common origin in a Hungarian workshop. Indeed, one exceptional feature - the single enamelled flower on a stem - seems to be yet another characteristic of several other Hungarian jewels: for example, the Peacock pendant of Vilma Erisey (Emerich von Szalay, ‘Die Historischen Denkmaler Ungarns, auf der Millenniums Austellung, 1896’, pl. LIV, 3) and the St George pendant in the Decorative Arts Museum, Budapest (illustrated in Hackenbroch 1979, fig. 559).

Turning now to the reverse of the Waddesdon hawking jewel, the design of the openwork foliate scrollwork which forms a background to the equestrian group does not harmonise successfully; indeed, it serves to confuse, when the jewel is viewed from the front, especially where the swags of drapery fall vertically on either side of the figures. Perhaps the least convincing aspect of the openwork design on the reverse occurs at the bottom where, in the centre at six o'clock, the white-enamelled lobe projects forward to rest on top of the broad enamelled ring. A similar overlapping within the openwork design is to be found in the centre near the top of the openwork, and in neither case does this work seem consistent with normal sixteenth-century goldsmiths' practice. The clumsy method of attaching the hawking equestrian relief to this openwork background by bolting it through the middle of the scrollwork is exactly paralleled on the bird pendant in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (no. 19), where it is also argued that the jewel's comparable asymmetrical arrangement can likewise be found in one of the engraved designs of Daniel Mignot, published in Augsburg between 1593 and 1596. In fact, the Mignot design is not for a figure scene executed in pierced relief but for a purely ornamental openwork of scrolls and, consequently, cannot be regarded as significant evidence.

This Londesborough/ Waddesdon jewel bears only a few traces of damage and alteration, none of which would be difficult to explain even if the jewel had been made de novo as a fake shortly before it was exhibited in London in 1850. The many unsatisfactory features of the jewel, combined with its striking relationship to the Sauvageot Collection hawking pendant jewel, must cast doubt on its age, especially in its present form - and, indeed, bring into question the entire associated group of ajouré 'roundel' pendants.


  • ‘Index to the Objects of Science, Art, and Antiquity, exhibited or collected at 144, Piccadilly’ (supplied for the use of Lord Londesborough's Visitors on Wednesday evening, 8 May 1850), p. 19 F.W. Fairholt, ‘Miscellanea Graphica, Representations of ancient, medieval and renaissance remains in the possession of Lord Londesborough’, London, 1857, pl. XXXVIII, fig. 3
  • E. Plon, ‘Benvenuto Cellini’, Paris 1883, pl. XXIII, fig. 1
  • ‘The Treatises of Benvenuto Cellini’, trans, and ed. C. R. Ashbee, London, 1898, illus. facing p. 24
  • Charles Hercules Read, ‘The Waddesdon Bequest: Catalogue of the Works of Art bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898’, London, 1902, no. 177, fig. 24
  • O.M. Dalton, ‘The Waddesdon Bequest’, 2nd edn (rev), British Museum, London, 1927, no. 177, pl. XVII
  • Yvonne Hackenbroch, Renaissance pendants after designs of Jost Amman, ‘The Connoisseur’, 160, 1965, p. 61, fig. 7
  • Yvonne Hackenbroch, ‘Renaissance Jewellery’, Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, London, New York and Munich, 1979, p. 153, fig. 409 A-B, pl. XVI
  • A Somers Cocks and C. Truman, ‘The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection’, London, 1984, p. 109, fig. 1
  • Hugh Tait, 'Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum. 1., The Jewels', British Museum, London, 1986, no. 10, pls. XIV, XV, figs. 85-86.
  • References

    1. Read 1902: Read, Charles Hercules, The Waddesdon Bequest. Catalogue of the Works of Art Bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild, M.P., 1898, London, BMP, 1902
    2. Dalton 1927: Dalton, Ormonde Maddock, The Waddesdon Bequest : jewels, plate, and other works of art bequeathed by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild., London, BMP, 1927
    3. Tait 1986: Tait, Hugh, Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum; I The Jewels, London, BMP, 1986

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