Pendant with Crucifixion and St. John the Baptist
This pendant features rock crystal: the crystal works with other techniques to create a spectacular presentation. On each side of this pendant, an individual octagonal stone has been faceted and beveled to make an integral frame for a picture that is painted on its reverse. The technique of verre églomisé, deployed here in a full range of colors, is used to virtuoso effect. The “frame” is created with gold leaf. But first (in reverse painting) an inner border was articulated in red and green pigment.
Within this “frame” on each side of this jewel is a tiny illusionistic scene painted with great delicacy (with, again, each color and detail laid down in reverse order). In the final result, the sense of looking into a deep space is amplified by the recessive colors of the landscape in contrast to the frame which sparkles and changes tone depending on the angle at which the light strikes the object. The effect can only be called scintillating.
The two subjects presented on the pendant are the Crucifixion and John the Baptist. The portrait of John in particular can be compared to the depiction of the same saint on a pendant in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In both pendants, the rock crystal is faceted and a fictive frame as well as the scene are painted in verre églomisé. The New York jewel has what is thought to be a Spanish setting, as opposed to the Italian origin of this piece’s setting. The strong similarities in the reverse-painted crystals speak to the international commonalities in high-quality jewels made for courts, although it is also possible that ready-painted rock crystal octagons were traded internationally.
The jewel is set in a simple silver setting that allows the paintings to shine.