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Bracelet with Jewelled Clasp

Early Byzantine
second half of the 4th century (possibly 360-80)
3.5 cm x 7.4 cm (1 3/8 in. x 2 15/16 in.)
gold and gems

On view


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Although this bracelet belongs to the same treasure as the pendant with a medallion of Constantine (see BZ.1975.6), the openwork piercing is far more delicate. Around the hoop are alternating circles and lozenges filled in, respectively, with rosettes and stars, and scrolls occupy the spaces between them. The square clasp was set with gemstones and pearls, of which only the central amethyst, one garnet, and two pearls remain today. These gems, combined with the pierced gold background, exemplify the brilliant late Roman and early Byzantine coloristic style of elite jewelry. The bracelet, among the most refined works of opus interrasile that comes down to us from the period, is witness to the successful combination of the two styles of jewelry design that were developing independently— the use of beautifully colored gemstones and the highly sophisticated techniques of goldworking.
S. Zwirn

Catalogue of ancient jewellery, Classical, Celtic, Egyptian and Western Asiatic Antiquities and an Important Group of Early Byzantine Gold Medallions, Coins and Jewellery, from Various Sources: which will be sold at auction by Christie, Manson & Woods... Monday, October 19, 1970 (London, 1970), no. 202.

D. Buckton, "The Beauty of Holiness: Opus Interrasile from a Late Antique Workshop," Jewellery Studies 1 (1983-84): 15-19, esp. 16, fig. 6.

K. R. Brown, "The Morgan Bracelets reconsidered: A propos of the screw mechanism as used in the production of early Christian bracelets," in Outils et ateliers d'orfèvres des temps anciens, Antiquités nationales; mémoire 2 ed. C. Eluère (Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 1993), 85-91, esp. 86.

B. Deppert-Lippitz, "A Group of late Antique Jewelry in the Getty Museum," in Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum 1, Occasional Papers on Antiquities 8 (Malibu, Calif., 1993), 107-40, esp. 116, fig. 9.

B. Deppert-Lippitz, "Late Roman Splendor: Jewelry from the Age of Constantine," Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 1 (1996): 30-71, esp. 66, fig. 32a-b.

A. Geroulanou, Diatrita : Gold Pierced-work Jewellery from the 3rd to the 7th Century (Athens, 1999), 62, 86-87, 138, no. 224, fig. 143, 248.

A. Yeroulanou, Diatrita : Gold Pierced-work Jewellery from the 3rd to the 7th Century (Athens, 1999), 43, pl. 12.

M. C. Ross, S. A. Boyd, and S. R. Zwirn, Jewelry, Enamels, and Art of the Migration Period, Catalogue of the Byzantine and Early Mediaeval Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection 2, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C., 2005), 166-170, no. 183, pl. 115-116, colorpl. J.

G. Bühl, ed., Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections (Washington, D.C., 2008), 46, pl. p. 47.

Exhibition History
Washington, DC, Freer Gallery of Art & the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, “Ancient and Medieval Metalwork from Dumbarton Oaks,” Dec. 16, 2005 – April 1, 2007.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Christie's London by Mrs. Kring, dealer from Netherlands, October 19, 1970.

Purchased from Richard Falkiner (dealer), London, by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, May 5, 1975.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.