Lorenzo Lotto: Portrait of Lucina Brembati (1518–23), Accademia Carrara, Bergamo
I have, for about a year now, been wearing a first-knuckle ring (in either rose gold or silver) on my ring finger. Also known as memory rings or tea rings, they are worn at the top of the finger, and they’ve been freaking out my family members, who say they look like some form of torture. (I swear, they don’t hurt!) But I knew that first-knuckle rings had had a historical precedent, and I knew I had seen them before in paintings.
So I was so excited when I encountered Lorenzo Lotto’s Renaissance portrait of Italian noblewoman Lucina Brembati at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (as part of an exhibition on Bellini, Titian and Lotto). Brembani is wearing a gold ring right below her first knuckle! Indeed, she’s rather decked out in jewels and fur, including a gold toothpick dangling from her neck (which looks like it has a ruby or some other precious stone in it) and a marten-fur stole, a luxury object that, according to the Met’s wall text, also helped to attract fleas.