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Silver and Enamel “Iona Dove” Necklace by Alexander Ritchie 1933

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    Posted 3 months ago

    (113 items)

    Alexander and Euphemia Ritchie were true artists in the Art & Crafts tradition. They lived on the remote Isle of Iona off the Western Coast of Scotland from 1900 to 1941, where they designed and hand fabricated their Celtic inspired jewellery and household items.

    Iona has an incredible history as the centre of Christian monastic culture in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages circa 6th to 10th Centuries. This time is sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages. Rather than being a dark or unknown time the period saw a great flowering of artistic endeavour including the production of the Book of Kells, probably started on Iona, and now regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure.

    The Ritchies used an illustration from the Book of Kells for this design, which is known as the “Iona Dove”. It is usually seen as a brooch or simple pendant, and much rarer with the enamels and the necklace fittings. It is quite big, the main dove section is 50mm (2in) wide.

    The market for the Ritchies work was the tourists who came to Iona, often attracted by the Christian history and spirituality of the Isle. Among the Ritchies most popular items were Celtic interlace crosses that no doubt had a special appeal to these visitors, and which are now among their most sought-after items. I'm sure this Iona Dove necklace intentionally fell into the same category, because the Dove is a Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22, “And the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily shape, like a dove on Him").

    It is a top of the line Ritchie piece and I was rapt to pick it up locally, it is a great buzz to discover such a nice thing on your home turf.

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    1. kyratango kyratango, 3 months ago
      WOW! What a find, and, as you said, on your home turf! :-D
    2. plein-air-painter, 3 months ago
      That is a rare find. So beautiful! Museum worthy. Congratulations.
    3. Agram.m Agram.m, 3 months ago
      Beautiful congratulations
    4. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 3 months ago
      Thanks to all for the Loves and kind comments. This is another example of describing things making you see them through new eyes. I realised the dove has special significance in a Christian context have added a paragraph near the end of the description above.
    5. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 3 months ago
      Alexander Ritchie made some lovely pieces, his caddy spoons are rather expensive. To be honest Paul, I haven’t seen any work like your necklace before, it is beautiful.
      He trained as a marine engineer and joined the British India stream shipping company. He worked with the company for over 20 yrs, travelling to many locations worldwide. Very interesting man.
    6. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 3 months ago
      Hi Jean, yes so interesting, I have the book Iona Celtic Art by Mairi MacArthur and has lots of info. I find it amazing that Alexander took up Art & Crafts in his 40's, went to the Glasgow School of Art with Rennie Mackintosh and all the notables, met Euphemia there, and they went to Iona where they lived for the rest of their lives producing all these beautiful things.
    7. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 3 months ago
      This necklace is absolutely gorgeous!

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