Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Torque (Neck Ring), 4th–3rd century b.c.; European Iron Age
    Celtic
    Copper alloy; Diam. 6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm)
    Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.1919)

    This torque, or neck ring, is an elegant example of one of the most important forms of jewelry for the ancient Celts. The lower half of the ring has been formed into a series of large beads that were once inset with red enamel. Though now somewhat corroded, the piece nonetheless gives an idea of how Celtic artisans elaborated upon the basic ring-shaped form. Worn by both men and women, a torque was often seen as a symbol of divinity or high rank in addition to serving talismanic purposes. Ancient writers noted that the Celtic queen Boadicea, who fought the Romans in eastern Britain, wore a golden neck ring in battle. Celtic artists often depicted deities wearing or holding torques, and torques were also included among votive treasures placed at sanctuaries.

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    On view: Gallery 301
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  • Torque (Neck Ring), 4th–3rd century B.C.; European Iron Age
    Celtic
    Copper alloy; Diam. 6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm)
    Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.1919)

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