Art Nouveau Ophelia Ring
This sculptural ring is made of cast and finely chased gold. The hoop widens and merges into the bezel. The shoulders are subtly molded with entwined twigs and foliage which encircle a female head in high relief. The woman is depicted with her eyes almost shut and with a water lily to one side of her forehead. The hoop itself is plain inside and, on the outside, its polished surface has an engraved inscription in French: "11 Mars 1909." On the bottom of the exterior of the hoop is a lozenge-shaped French maker's mark that can no longer be deciphered. There is also a French warranty mark for gold in the form of an eagle facing right and the mark "DEPOSE," signifying that it is a registered design. This high-quality rendering of a woman's head compares in its detail with large bronze sculptures of the period by Alphonse Maria Mucha and the French sculptors Maurice Bouval or Léopold Savine. The ring depicts Ophelia, the young, doomed noblewoman at the center of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, written between 1599 and 1602. Ophelia as an image on a ring, however, is unusual and rare. Art Nouveau jewelry did feature the female head encircled by flora and foliage, but more commonly on pendants and brooches, rather than on rings.