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Double-sided Pendant with the Annunciation and the Resurrection

Artist Unknown, Northern Italy

Artwork Details

Double-sided Pendant with the Annunciation and the Resurrection
late 15th century
Artist Unknown, Northern Italy
silver nielloed with gilt copper frame
4 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in x 1/4 in (11.43 cm x 11.43 cm x 0.64 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Director's Acquisition Committee, 2015


In the Renaissance, intricate pendants such as this one demonstrated the skill of the jeweler or goldsmith. They are, in essence, small sculptures, whether in low relief or, as here, with an incised design. Despite its small size, this work contains full scenes of the Annunciation, the moment of the incarnation of Jesus in the Christian Bible, and his raising from the dead in the Resurrection. Both employ the one-point perspective that made depictions of spatial settings so convincing in Italian Renaissance art.
The practice of incising designs into metal eventually gave rise to the copperplate engraving print process, which began in Italy and Germany in the second quarter of the fifteenth century. In metalwork, the incised lines of a design were sometimes lled with black enamel to make them stand out—this is called niello. To make an engraving, lines were incised into a copper plate and then lled with ink and pressed onto paper. The pendant illustrates how an Italian copper engraving plate might have looked around the 1480s. In this period Italian painters such as Andrea Mantegna (1431– 1506) and Raphael (1483–1520) used engravings to disseminate their painting compositions. 

Physical Description:

Side A: Etched pendant lined with gilt border with image of two figures, male and female.
Side B: One main figure with a staff surrounded by many figures.

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