Dame Edith Sitwell's 19th Century Chinese Carved Fluorite Ring
Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell DBE (1887-1964) was a poet and writer from the noted literary Sitwell clan and a descendant, on her mother's side, of the Plantagenets, who she would often reference as muses and guides in her literary efforts. Due to her rather unloving parents, Edith was raised by her governess, who is credited in nurturing the creative side of the young spirited writer.
Edith Sitwell was a central figure in the group of artists known as the Bright Young Things. Life was art and every moment an opportunity to create and to perform for these well to do young aristocrats, known for throwing lavish parties at their country estates.
Edith had an uncommon beauty, not unlike that of Queen Elizabeth I, with her long thin limbs and fingers and dramatic facial features. She would cover her hands in rings with monumental gemstones. In photographs taken by Horst and Cecil Beaton, her hands were often used to frame her face. She was quoted saying, "My hands are my face."
Dame Edith Sitwell left the majority of her rings to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where they are prominently displayed amongst the historic fine jewelry.
Weston Hall, the last Sitwell family seat in Northamptonshire, changed hands this past year. The home used by the Sitwell clan since the early 20th century was a time capsule, having been untouched for many years. Among the family antiques, manuscripts and collections, was a marvelous carved fluorite dress ring featuring two mythical beasts, described by The National Portrait Gallery in the 1994 exhibition titled, The Sitwells and the Arts of the 1920s and 1930s, as of 19th century Chinese workmanship and is believed to have been in Edith's possession by 1950.
The ring has a metal shank with opposing prongs, which may have held the carved fluorite in place. The carving looks to have been one piece but has separated due to a break. What looks to be a later addition of metal wire was added to aid in keeping the fluorite together and in place on the setting.
Provenance:Dame Edith Sitwell DBE (1887-1964) Exhibited: National Portrait Gallery, London, 1994, The Sitwells and the Arts of the 1920'S and 1930's, p. 151, 4.40 | Dreweatts 1759 Ltd. Weston Hall and the Sitwells: A Family Legacy November 16, 2021