Pendant with facing couple (obverse) and sacred monogram (reverse), 15th century
Silver gilt, niello; Diam. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm)
Inscribed (reverse): ihs
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.965)
This pendant is a love token, showing a young couple facing each other separated by stylized pinks, but the reverse includes the sacred monogram ihs, the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus Christ. It reminds us of the role of the sacred in everyday life in the Renaissance and may have been turned to the reverse when the wearer entered church for services. The niello technique used here to fill engraved lines on a metal plate was described by Giorgio Vasari in the introduction to his second edition of the Lives of the Artists (1568).