Terret (Rein Guide)

1st century
Celtic or Roman
Copper alloy, champlevé enamel
Overall: 3 1/8 x 4 x 1 1/4 in. (7.9 x 10.2 x 3.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund; Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Pfeiffer, Rogers, Fletcher, Louis V. Bell, and Dodge Funds; and J. Richardson Dilworth, Peter Sharp, and Annette Reed Gifts, 1988
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This terret, made sometime around the Roman conquest of Britain in A.D. 43, comes from one of the numerous workshops then specializing in the production of richly decorated, high-quality bronze and champlevé enamel fittings for horses and chariots. To make this kind of enamel embellishment, cavities for the design were either cast into the object from the beginning or scooped out of the metal ground, then filled with powdered glass which was fused by heat. Harness mounts, horse bits, and terret rings from several regions of Britain display exuberant patterns of incised lines and brightly colored circles, fan-shapes, and commas of the same type of ornament that so enlivens the surface of this terret. The decorative effect is enhanced by the terret's distinctive silhouette, which is created by the regular placement of projecting "lips." The lips too serve as fields for ornamentation in enamel and carry reflecting patterns of dots and fans. This terret would originally have been attached to a chariot yoke, where it probably served to guide the reins of a double harness.

  • Provenance

    S. Hall, Esq., Norwich, England (ca. 1972); [ Sotheby's, London, December 13, 1982, lot 141]; [ Rainer Zietz Limited, London]; Private Collection, Germany; [ Ward & Company Works of Art, New York (sold 1987)]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History