The Millais Ring, a gold signet ring symbolising the friendship between Pre-Raphaelite founder John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, has seen strong results in Bonhams' Jewellery sale on October 9.
The ring was consigned to auction as part of a larger collection from the family of Holman Hunt, and was originally valued at £10,000 ($16,009). It sold for £37,500 ($60,036), making a 175% increase on estimate.
Millais and Holman Hunt met at the Royal Academy of Art in London, and formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood shortly after in 1848. They were extremely close friends -even lovers - and remained so for the rest of their lives.
Such was their affection for one another that, when Holman Hunt left England to further his religious painting, Millais wrote:
"In truth I don't think I should have the strength to say goodbye - scarcely a night passes but what I cry like an infant over the thought that I may not see you again - I wish I had something to remember you by, and I desire that should go to Hunt and Roskell and get yourself a signet ring which you must always wear…have your initials engraved thereon."
Holman Hunt faithfully carried out Millais' request, resulting in the present ring, which is engraved with "WHH" combined with an "M" for Millais.
Also starring from the Holman Hunt family collection was a a gold and shell cameo brooch, which was a gift from the artist to his second wife Fanny Waugh. Originally expected to make between £1,000-1,500 ($1,600-2,400), it went on to sell for an impressive £27,500 ($44,027).
On December 4, Sotheby's will offer fellow Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti's A Christmas Carol with a £6m ($9.3m) estimate.
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