Joan of Arc Ring by Louis Wièse (1852-1930)
Gold ring with almost square section hoop, grooved on the lower half and forked at the shoulder to create a triangular shape with Gothic trefoil surrounded by scrolling foliage. The Gothic tracery with foliage widens to form a diamond-shaped bezel framing a quatrefoil with a sculpted female head in three-quarter profile, probably Joan of Arc. She wears a helmet, and the collar appears like that of a cuirass. The details are all finely chased. On the underside of the bezel is the maker’s mark “WIESE,” which was in use by Louis Wièse from 1890 to 1925. The lozenge shaped maker’s mark is above and repeated along the rim, as also the eagle’s head, the French guarantee mark for 18 carat gold for goods made in France. The ring is in excellent wearable condition.
Louis Wièse was renowned for his fine art of chasing and his excellent craftsmanship, as seen here in this Neo-Gothic ring bearing the image of one of France’s most prominent heroines, Joan of Arc (1412-1431). She led the country to victory during the Hundred Year War against England and was ultimately tried for heresy and burnt at stake by her enemies.
In 1880 Louis Wièse took over the workshop of his celebrated father, Jules Wièse (1818-1890), which was founded in Paris in 1855. The revivalist styles of his father Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, and Baroque continued to be immensely fashionable during that period. Louis’ admiration for Greek and Roman jewelry gave him further inspiration. Henri Vever (1854-1942), a contemporary jeweler, published a Neo-Renaissance set of jewels by Louis Wièse in his 1906-1909 compendium of French nineteenth-century jewelry and described him as a very talented artist (Vever 2001, p. 1013).
A ring with the same design with Gothic architectural features is now located in a private collection, but in that example the female figure is portrayed in a standing pose (Chadour-Sampson/Hindman 2016, p.199, with further references about his work). For biographical information and the workshop, see Hellmuth 2014, especially about Louis Wièse, pp. 92 ff. and the hallmark identification, p. 122.
Chadour-Sampson, Beatriz, and Sandra Hindman. Rings Around the World, Paris, Chicago and New York, 2016; Hellmuth, Silke. Jules Wièse und sein Atelier: Goldschmiedekunst des 19. Jahrhunderts in Paris. Berlin, 2014; Vever, Henri. French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century, trans. Katherine Purcell, London, 2001.