Rare cameo ring gifted through Art Fund to the V&A

A beautiful ring enameled with flowers and mounted with a cameo of Elizabeth I has been gifted to the V&A by Nicholas Snowman OBE through Art Fund.

The miniature carved likeness of Elizabeth I is a fine example of the cameo portraits worn by the Queen’s courtiers as a sign of their taste, patriotism and proximity to the monarch. Its handsome setting on an enamelled gold band is a rare survival of the 17th century.

This gift has taken place at the same time as a gift of nine significant works by Carl Fabergé and two by the 18th-century goldsmith, Johann Christian Neuber, donated to the V&A by Nicholas Snowman OBE from the Kenneth and Sallie Snowman Collection. These works have been given as part of the government’s Cultural Gifts Scheme, a major initiative introduced in 2013 to encourage lifetime giving to UK public collections.

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, says: ‘Nicholas Snowman’s Cultural Gift is the most important donation of a British public collection and will greatly enrich the V&A’s jewellery holdings. It is an act of great generosity and cultural philanthropy.’

Commenting on the Elizabeth I cameo ring acquisition, Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund director, said: ‘We’re immensely pleased that Nicholas Snowman, a treasured Art Fund supporter, has gifted this very special Elizabeth I cameo ring to the V&A through us – in recognition of our recent campaign to save the Armada Portrait for Royal Museums Greenwich. We’re delighted that this beautiful piece of jewellery has found a permanent public home at the V&A.’

All of the works, including the ring, are now on display in the V&A’s William and Judith Bollinger Gallery.

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