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Roman intaglio with Aphrodite

Price: on request
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Object number
AR1950-085
Object: Roman intaglio with Aphrodite

Material: Orange, transparent glass paste.

Period: 3rd century BC to mid 2nd century AD.
Roman Republic to Roman Imperial times.
The italic glass pastes usually pick up motifs from the 3rd to 1st century BC that were popular on stone intaglios of that time. Due to the long use of such motifs the glass paste described here might well date to the Roman Imperial period.

Description:    Quality Roman intaglio made of orange glass paste. The motif is molded in great detail into the clear glass.
Long oval ring stone with flat image side. The skillful work shows the goddess aphrodite between a high column and an unidentified vertical structure. She shows her back and the side of her face to the viewer. Her mantled glides down below her hips in the back.

Background: The Romans called each precious stone "gemma". Today, when talking about ancient art, gem often refers to a stone engraved with a motif. If the motif stands out in relief the stone is called a cameo. If it is incised we call the stone intaglio. Intaglios can theoretically be used as a stamp seal, but in practice they were decorative since the Roman period.
Engraved gems were made by the earliest civilizations and were used as seals and jewellery in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Crete. The finely worked gemstones became most popular during the Hellenistic period and remained popular throughout Roman history. Two circumstances led to the mass production of engraved gems in Italy. One was the availability of inexpensive glass and semi-precious stones. The other was that established motifs could easily be engraved or molded into glass using technically perfected copying methods. In Italy, where the Etruscans had already designed artistically sophisticated cameos and intaglios, a trade in gemstones of unprecedented size developed. The best sellers were intaglios, which were worn as gemstones in rings. Those made of glass paste, like the piece presented here, were mostly set in bronze rings.
Today's lovers and collectors of anicient glyptics still feel the same fascination for the manifold miniatures. Thanks to durable materials, they last until the present day and are a unique window into the past. They reflect the Roman way of life in portraits, scenes from everyday life and mythology, animals and symbols. Due to numerous finds, Roman intaglios are an excellent area of collecting, which can offer a lot for both young and experienced collectors.

Dimensions: 19.5mm long, 9mm wide.

Condition: Perfect condition apart from minor chips.

Provenance: From the German collection of Professor H. Brosch (1923 to 2009), author of historical publications, scientific museum advisor, decorated by the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The collection was built between 1960 and 1975. It was inherited to U. Buechner, Germany, and then acquired by us in 2013.

The Professor Brosch collection of ancient Gems:
After the decline of the Roman Empire, ancient gems retained or regained recognition in medieval Europe. In addition to frequent reuse in church art, there were also profane uses. This is shown by the example of the ancient intaglio of Julia, daughter of Emperor Titus. It was reused in the 9th century by the Merovingians in the "Escrain de Charlemagne" and can be admired today in the French National Library.
The reception of ancient glyptic during the Italian Renaissance resulted in a great fashion to collect gems, which could be entertained by the European educated bourgeoisie during journeys through the Mediterranean in the spirit of enlightenment and education. Thus Goethe, inspired by his trip to Italy, which was immortalised in literature, also built up a collection of antiquities.
The collection of ancient intaglios by Professor Brosch is certainly a late classicist continuation of this tradition. The collection forms a systematic cross-section of the thematic diversity of ancient gems and has been worked on extensively with a scholarly approach. Professor Brosch had a great interest, not only in ancient history, but also in the more recent history of his home region. He was honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit for his achievements in the field of historical studies. It is with pride that we have fully documented this collection and provided it with literature references. We are now pleased to bring these miniature works of art from the ancient world back into circulation and to enrich a collection in the tradition of the Renaissance and Enlightenment in a worthy manner.
If you are interested in purchasing the collection in its entirety, please do not hesitate to contact us.

References: Similar Antike Gemmen in Deutschen Sammlungen, Band I: Staatliche M├╝nzsammlung M├╝nchen, part 2, plate 132, no. 1284.

Literature: The classic and main work on the art of ancient engraved seals is A. Furtwaengler, Die antiken Gemmen, Volumes 1 to 3 (Leipzig and Berlin, 1900).
A compact introduction and a cross-section of motifs is offered by G. Lippold in Gemmen und Kameen des Altertums und der Neuzeit (Stuttgart, 1921).
Our recommendation for budding collectors is H. Gebhart, Gemmen und Kameen (Berlin, 1925). The book is well available in antiquarian bookshops. It provides a very good introduction to the materials used and then goes through the entire history of glyptic with numerous, well-explained examples.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.