Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

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Africa, this art must have been known in very ancient times, because their
sculptured stones are mentioned by the ancient Greek and Roman writers.
Persian gems of various kinds are still in existence. But the Etrurians were
more remarkable. They either borrowed the art from the Egyptians, or very
soon became imitators of the Egyptian manner, and like them wrought gems in
the form of the scarabaeus or beetle. They carried their skill in execution much
further, but not to the point of Grecian excellence. We probably have remain-
ing but few sculptured gems that are really Etruscan: most of those so called
are probably of Grecian origin ; at least the evidence that they are Etruscan is
very unsatisfactory.

" Of this minute but charming art," says Memes, p. 70, as cited $ 169, " probably, the oldest
specimen now extant represents five of the seven chiefs who fought against Thebes. Of this the
design is inartificial and the workmanship rude. Other Etruscan gems, however, as the Tydeus
and Peleus, equal the most exquisite performances in this branch." The celebrated intaglio here
mentioned as representing the five chiefs was found at Perugia. It is preserved at Berlin.

A copy of this gem is given in Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities, p. 702.— On Egyptian and Persian gems, see DuhoU, Choix de
Pierres grav. ant. Egypt, et Pers. Par. 1817. 4.

§ 203. Whether the Greeks borrowed this art from Egypt cannot be decided
any more certainly than the exact time when they became acquainted with it.
That it existed in Egypt at an earlier period is unquestionable; but that the
Greeks must therefore have borrowed it from that country by no means follows.
Probably it arose among them at the same time with sculpture. It seems to
have been known in the time of the Trojan war, although Pliny expresses doubt
on the point. This writer and others mention, as the most ancient remarkable
gem among the Greeks, that belonging to the signet of Polycrates, king of

1 u. This seal was an emerald or sardonyx on which was carved a lyre. According
to tradition, this jewel, having been thrown by the king into the sea to avoid an acci-
dent that threatened him, was brought back by a fish that was served at his table.
The artist, who wrought it, was Theodoras of Samos, who flourished about 530
years before Christ. The art was at that time quite imperfect, but afterwards it ad-
vanced rapidly.

2. For the story of this ring, see Herodotus, iii. 39 — 41 ; Pausanias, viii. 14 ; Plinij, xxxiii. I.
xxxvii. L— "In the temple of Concord at Rome, in the lime of Pliny, a sardonyx was shown
which was said to be the ring of Polycrates. It was kept in a golden box, and was a present
from Augustus. According to Herodotus the stone was an emerald." — Barthelemifs Anachar-
8is, vol vi p. 265, 447.

§ 204 The art of gem-engraving reached its highest perfection among the
Greeks about the time of Alexander. In this flourishing time, no graver of
gems equaled Pyrgoteles in celebrity. While Apelles alone was allowed by
\lexander to paint his likeness, and Lysippus alone to carve his statue, Pyrgo-


teles was the only one permitted to sketch his miniature on the precious stone.
In the same period lived also Sostratus, wliose name is inscribed on some of
the most beautiful gems still existinor. Somewhat later, although it is not
certain precisely of what time, were ApoUonides and Cronius, artists of nearly
equal celebrity. Many other names of Grecian lapidaries occur both on exist-
ing ancient gems and in ancient writers. Not much reliance, however, is to be
placed on the inscriptions (cf. § 198). Some of the names ar'j the following:
Agathangelus, Agathopus, Aulus, Alpheus, Arethon, Epitynchanus, Albius,
Evodus, Mycon, Admon, .^tion, Anteros, Gceus, Pamphylus, Philemon, Soso-
cles, Tryphon, &c.

See Chr. Thtc-ph. de Mttrr, Bibliotheque gljrptographique. Dresd. 1804. 8. — Fr. Vettori, Dissertatio glypto?raphiea, &c. Rorc.
1739. A.—n. A. Bracci, Memoire de?li an'jchi incisori, chi scolpirono i loro norae inGemrae e Camel. Fir. 17S4. fol.— A list of
gem-eD?ravers is given iu Clarac's Descr. des Aut. du Muse^ Royal, cited § 191. 4.— On the history of gem-sculpture, see references
§ 213. 3.

§ 205. The Romans possessed this art only as the conquerors and lords of
Greece. Engraved gems were highly valued among them, and were bought at
exorbitant prices. Yet they can claim no proper merit for the advancement of
this art, because all, who were most distinguished in it among them, were
Greeks by birth. Of these, Dioscorides and Solon, in the time of Augustus,
were the best. Gems which are engraved in the proper Roman manner (and
such are recognized by the costume) are not valued so highly as the Grecian.
It is to be remarked that this art fell at the same time, and from the same
causes, with the other arts. In the middle ages, however, lithoglyphy was
not wholly neglected, since to this period belong the stones already mentioned
(§ 200) as passing under the name of Abraxas, and designed for magical pur

§ 206. The use of engraved stones with the ancients was twofold, for seals,
and for ornaments; in both cases it was common to make of them rings. The
early use of gems for such purposes is evident from passages in the Bible (cf.
§ 199). For seals, the figure was generally cut below the surface of the stone
{ii,ooxr) ; but when the stone was designed merely for ornament, it was usually
formed in relief {i^o:^rj). The ancients made collections of gems, which they
termed dactylujthec3e,baxtv%io9r;xai,, from Baxtv^io?, a ring; artists who wrought
these gems were from the same circumstance called ?)ax-tv%i.oy7.v^ot. Pliny
{H. N. xxxvii. 5) mentions several such collections, and among them that of
JMithridales, which was brought to Rome to the Capitol by Pompey. Julius
Caesar placed six different collections in the temple of Venus Genitrix; and
Marcellus, son of Octavia, one in the temple of Apollo. It is, however, proba-
ble, that these collections were composed, at least in considerable part, of gems
not engraved.

1. The custom of wearing a seal-ring was very general among the Greeks and Romans, and
tbe art of cutting figures into gems, or forming intaglios, was tiierefore much practiced. The
engravings were at first simple and rude, consisting sometimes merely of a round or square hole ;
but at length they were such in beauty of design and of e.xecution, that these works of the an-
cients remain unrivaled to the present day. The stones destined to be set in rings passed from
t'.ie hands of the sculptor into those of the goldsmith (annularius, compositor) ; tlie latter was also
employed to inlay cameos, or gems with raised figures, in gold and silver vessels of various kinds.

On the use of engraved gems for seals and rings, see /. Elmes, Dictionary of the Fine Arts. Lond. IS26. 8. on the word Seals. —
". Maridtc, Traite des pierres gravees. Far. 1750. 2 vols. io\.—Kirchmann, as cited § 213. Z.— Becker, Burmann, as cited P. HI.
? 338.— Also the references in Sulzer's Alig. Theorie, vol. ii. p. 394.

2. Some specimens of seals and rings are given in our Plate XLVII. — In the figures, a, 6, c, d, e,
are rings (annuli) suited to wear upon the finger. They were formed of some metal, with some
orecious stone inserted. Sometimes the inserted gems were merely polished so as to be smooth
and brilliant, as in fig. d. More frequently words or letters were engraved on the stones, as in
fiff. a, which has the initials of Jupiter Optimus Maximus . Sometimes the sculpture was the bust
of a friend or some distinguished personage, or of one of the imaginary gods, as in fig. 6, which
shows a head of Mercury; sometimes it was merely a representation of some common article
of utility, as a key or a pruning-knife, as in fig. c; sometimes it contained a mythological repre-
sentation, as in fig. /, where a goat and satyr are dancing together ; or some ceremony of an-
cient superstition, as in fig. e, where we see perhajis the crooked wand Qitiins) and the chicken,
indicating the augury called trlpudium. In short, the devices were exceedingly various — Rings,
which were used also for seals, were called by the Romans annnli signatorii, or signet-rings. —
It should be remarked, that they made use of other seals {sigilla), of a. more common sor* which
were made of the less precious metals, most frequently of brass, and wrought into a great va-
riety of forms. In fig. 3, we have a common sigillum of this kind, resembling in form the bottom
of a shoe or sandal Icalceus). and bearing the image of a heart and the name of probably the
owner, Ursinus, in the genitive case, cut in relief. Such seals appear to have been employed by
the rich Romans, among other uses, for marking their wine-vessels.


§ 207 Respecting the mechanical operations in this art among the ancients,
we are not well informed. They seem to have been similar to the methods of
modern artists, except that the ancients perhaps had some unknown way of
givino- to their works their high degree of delicacy, completeness, and finish.
For the ancient gems are certainly marked by these excellences, united with
singular beauty of design, taste in arrangement, variety in subject and illustra-
tion, and truth in expression. They are also characterized by a peculiar purity
and polish, and great fullness and freedom in the sculpture.

Laur. Natter, Trai'e de !a methode antique de graver en pierres fines, comparee avec la nielhnde moderne. Engl. Transl Trea-
tise on the ancient method of engraving on precious stones compared with the modern. Lond. 1754. fol. with plates — Cf. MUller^s

Archsr.logy. On the question whether the ancient artists used lertses and magnifying glasses, see Winckelmann, Histoire, &c vol.

ii. p. 109, as cited § 32. 4.

§ 208. Yet fixed and infallible criteria cannot be given for distinguishing an-
cient from modern gems, or spurious from genuine antiques ; since modern gem-
engravers have approached very near the perfection of the ancient artists, and
have surpassed those among them who were of a secondary rank. The dis-
criminating eye and judgment of the connoisseur are formed perhaps more by
practice than by any general rules; attention, however, must be paid to notice
the material of the gem, the manner and air of the etching, the nature of the
polish, and frequently to consider and compare various circumstances in history
and antiquities.

See Von Vdtheim, Sammlung einiger Aufsatze. Helmst. 1800. 2 vols. 8. vol. ii. p. 135. On the modes of producing fictitiom

gems, see the Encyclopedia £ritannica, and the Edinburgh Encydofxdia, under the word Gtrns.

§ 209. The study of ancient gems is recommended by its manifold utility.
Aside from the aids to literature and taste which it affords in common with the
study of antiquities in general, it has a peculiar advantage, from the fact that
we have remaining a greater number and variety of gems than of monuments
of the other plastic arts, and that they are in a better state of preservation. The
latter circumstance gives them a preference even before coins, whose impres-
sions, notwithstanding any beauty in them, by no means equal the engravings
of the better Greek gems. A frequent examination of them may form the mind
to a quick sense and correct judgment of the beautiful, enrich the fancy of the
poet and artist, and familiarize the student with the conceptions and the spirit
of ancient genius.

The study has also an important bearing on sacred philology; since many coins exist, which
confirm historical facts incitientally mentioned in the Bible.

For illustration of the last mentioned point, see Home, Inlrod. to Sacred Scriptures, vol. i. p. 211, as cited § 213. 2 IVahh. as

citea \ 213. 2. — On the general subject, see ffiorz. Uber den Nutzen uudGebrauch der geschnittenen Steine und ihrerAbdrQcke.
Altenb. 1768. 8.— Also Mariette, cited § 206, and Natter, cited § 207.

§ 210. These remains of ancient art have been rendered much more exten-
sively useful from the ease with which they are multiplied by means of imita-
tions. Imitations in glass are the most valuable, because in color, luster, and
translucency, they can be made so nearly like the originals that it is at first
even difficult to distinguish them. Something similar was the Vitrum Ohsidia-
num of the ancients. Much less valuable are impressions in sulphur and in
wax, although the latter have an advantage in the facility of execution.

1. The art of multiplying copies of gems by means of impressions on colored glass,
or tne vitrified substance called paste, is interesting not only to mere antiquaries and
artists, but also to men of taste. It is of considerable antiquity, and perhaps was
practiced by the Greeks. It is supposed to be alluded to by Pliny ; and is mentioned
by Heraclius, in the 9th century, in a work entitled X>e coloribus et arf.ibus Romanorum.
Indeed it is said, that among the existing antique cameos are found imitations of the
onyx in glass.

Cf. Pliny, Hist. Nat xxxvi. 26.~Encyclcyp. Britann. under Gems.— Mariette, as cited § 206. vol. i. p. S3.—Feiichtwanger, p. 4?,

as cited § 194. On the general subject of pastes and casts, we may also refer to Sulzei-'i Allgem. Theorie, &e. under the words

libdrllche, Ahgllsse, Paste.

2. The translucid substance termed Ohsidianum seems to have received its name
irom Obsidius, a Roman who first brought it to Rome from Ethiopia. It is considered
as the same niineral which is now called Obsidian, and has been termed lava-glass in
reference to its appearance, in which it resembles glass, and to its origin, which somo
have supposed to be volcanic. The Romans manufactured mirrors and gems from it.

Cf. Pliny Hist. Nat. xxxvi. ffl.—Launay, Mineralogie des Anciens, as cited § 195. 2. vol. i. p. 361.— iJ. Jameinn's Mineralogy.
Edinb. 1820. 3 vc's. 8. vol. i. p. 319.— Co7nJe de Caylus, in the Mem. de rAcad. des Inscr. vol. xxx. p. 457.


3 M. The material invented by Prof. Lippert of Dresden, which is a fine white sub
8tanc2. is very useful for taking casts and impressions. The casts in this show the
work to better advantage perhaps than sulphur. They are liable to be injured by
friction. Lippert prepared a series of casts amounting to 3000 in number, of which
each 1000 was sold separately.

Those of ihe first thousand were arranged and described by Prof. Clinst of Leipsic, and those of the second and third thousand by
Prof. Hetpie of Goitingen, in a Latiyi Catalogue. Lips. 1755-63. 4. A more full account is given by Lippert himself, in his Doc-
tt/liolliek. Lpz 1767. 2 vols. 4. and the Supplement. Lpz. 1776. 4.

4. The pastes and imitations of Wedgewood, the distinpished English porcelain
manufacturer, are very highly esteemed. ' ' His imitations of jasper, by which cameos,
and white figures in rehef, are raised on a colored ground, are exquisitely beautiful."
— Wedgewood and Bentley invented a peculiar composition, of a dark appearance,
which is considered as very useful for making copies ot sculptured stones.

A Catalogue of Ihe Casts of H'edgeivood and Bentley wa.s published Lond. 1790. S.— Cf. SillimanU Journal, vol. ixvi. p. 244.

5. The glass pastes of James Tassie, a native of Glasgow, resident at London, have
acquired great celebrity. His collection of impressions of ancient and modern gems
amounted to 15.000. His pastes were brought into greater notoriety by the jewelers,
who inserted them in seals, rings, and other ornaments.

An account of his numerous impressions was published under the following title : A Descriptive Catalogue of a general collec'inn
of ancient and modern Geyns, cast in colored pastes, white enamel, and sulphur ; by J. roirie,— arranged and described by R. F.
Bosye,— and illustrated with Copperplates; to which is prefixed an Introduction on the various uses of this collection, the origin of
the art of engraving on stones, and the progress of pastes. Lond. 1791. 2 vols. 4.

6. Copies of coins and medals are also multiplied by means of casts in sulphur and
other substances. Thus, e. g. the medals struck in commemoration of events in the
fife of Bonaparte are imitated and made known extensively by sulphur casts ; the
medals consisting of 160 pieces ; the casts forming a suite of 185 pieces including several
reverses. Thus also, bv casts in some metallic composition, as is stated, have been
copied the "Waterloo Medals," that were distributed by order of the British Parlia-
ment to Wellington and the ofiicers and soldiers engaged in the battle of Waterloo;
and likewise the beautiful series of medals struck under the direction of Mr. jVIudie to
commemorate achievements in the history of British wars.

See Lasliey's Series of Bonaparte's Medals, royal 8vo. Loud.— Edwards, The Napoleon Medals, with historical and biographical
Notices. Lond. 1842. fol.

§ 211. Of the great number of existing gems only a few will be named, of
such as are the most celebrated. Of this class are the following:— the signet
of Michael Angelo (cachet de Michel Jnge), as it is called in the Royal INUiseum
at Paris, a carnelian, on which is represented with masterly skill an A I hern an
festival, or, as some think", the training uf Bacchus ; — a very beautiful Medusa's
head upon a chalcedony, formerly in the Strozzi collection at Rome, now in
possession of the Baron von Schellersheim; — the head of Socrates on a carne-
lian in the collection of St. Mark's at Harlem ; — Bacchus and Ariadne upon a
red jasper in the collection of the Grand-duke at Florence; — the heads of Au-
gustus, Maecenas, Diomedes, and Hercules, inscribed with the name Diosco-
rides;— a head of Alexander, a cameo of sardonyx^ with an inscription scarcely

genuine of the name Pyrgoteles. Among the largest gems remainingS are

the following : — an onyx in the Imperial collection at Vienna, on which is ex-
hibited the apotheosis of Augustus and Livia;— the so-called Mantuan Vessel,
formed of onyx^ in possession of the family of the Duke of Brunswick; and
the celebrated Barberini or Portland vase^

1. o-li has been remarked that the seal of Michael Angelo aflTords a notable instance
of the controversies and mistakes of antiquaries. " By one the subject is supposed to
be Alexander the Great represented as Bacchus ; by another it is thought a religious
procession of the Athenians; and there are others, who suppose it simply a vintage,
or sacrifical rites relative to the conquest of India. But it is said to be proved, that
instead of being an antique, this gem was engraved by an intimate friend of Angelo
himself. It was bought by the keeper of the cabinet of Henry IV. of France for 800
crowns, and Louis XIV. having afterwards acquired it, frequently wore it as a ring."

"It is not improbable that this carnelian is the work of Pietro Maria da Peseta, as the figure of the fisherman in the exergue may
indicate that artist, who, with Michelino, belonged to the age of Leo X, {Fiorillo, Essa>-s, vol. ii. p. 18S)."— Cf. New Edinb. Ency-
clopxdia, under Genw.— The Encydopsedia Americana, vol. v. p. 405.

2. ^The cameo of sardonyx bearing the head of Alexander was published by Stosch
in his work cited below {% 213. 2). It is also given, with other supposed portraits of
that conqueror, in a paper in the Memoirs of the histifute. Speaking of engraved
stones which present in relief the heads of illustrious personages, Winrhelmnmi says,
the first rank may be assigned to a bust of Augustus, on a flesh-colored chalcedony,
in the library of the Vatican. Jameson meiitions as very fine an engraved gem ot


heliotrope (cf. § 195. 1) preserved in the National or Royal Library at Paris ; it repre-
sents tlie iiead of Christ scourged {Christ JlagelU), and is so cut that the red spots of
the gem represent drops of blood.

Cf. Merin. tie Plnstitut, C 1 a s s e de Lit. et Beaux Arts, vol. i. p. 615.— Winckelmann, Histoire, &c. livre iv. ch. vii. § 67-70.—

B./ameson, Mineralogy. Edinb. IS20. 3 vols. 8.

A gem with a beautiful female head and bust is noticed in the Hilt, de I'Acad. Inscr. vol. iii. p. 244. Sur une Prime d'Emerand
antique; supposed by some to represent Eucharis, the celebrated female dancer at Rome.

3. c]\J'o?igez, in the Memoirs of the French Institute, describes three antique cameos
said b)' him to be the largest known. The first is a sardonyx, in the cabinet of the
king of France, and is called the Agate of Tiberius. It is of an irregular oval form,
nearly one foot Um pied) in length and about ten inches {dix pouces) in the greatest
breadth. The sculpture on it exhibits three scenes ; one, in heaven, is the apotheo-
sis of Augustus; another, on earth, is the investiture of a priestess, in the family of
Tiberius, ibr the worship of Augustus ; a third scene presents captives of various na-
tions of the earth. — The second cameo is in the Imperial cabinet at Vienna. It is
about one-third less than the one just specified, and represents Tiberius as descend-
ing from a chariot. — The third is a sardonyx, which in 1808 belonged to a public col-
lection in Holland ; it represents Claudius and his family drawn by Centaurs.

4. d "The concentrically striped onyxes, which are very rare, were much prized by the an-
cients and they cut upon them very beaiuiful figures in denii-relief. One of the most beautiful
works cut in this variety of chalcedony is the celebrated Mantuan vase, which was seized by the
Germans at the storming of Mantua, and ever since has been preserved in the Ducal collection
in Brunswick. Several beautiful plates of onyx are preserved in the Electoral Cabinet in Dres-
den ; there is one valued at 44,000 dollars."

Mongez, in the Mem. de VInst. Classe d'H>st. et Lit. Anc. vol. viii. p. 370.— ^. A. BSltiger, Ueber die .Schtheit und das
Vaterlar.d der aniiken Ocyx-Kameen von ausserorienllicher GrOsse. Lpz. 1796. S.— Jameson, as above cited, vol. i. p. 244.

5. e The Portland vase is not formed, as was formerly supposed, of a natural gem, or precious
stone ; it has been already described (cf. $ 173. 2).

Winckelmavn mentionsi, as one of the finest antique gems, a cameo from the hand of Athenion,
preserved in the Farnese cabinet of Naples ; representing Jupiter in a chariot hurling )iis thun-
der-bolts and driving over the prostrate Titans ; he gives an engraving of it.

In our Plate XL VIII. we have a copy of an engraved gem, described by Montfancon as be-
longine to the Royal Cabinet at Paris, and as being of exquisite beauty^ ; the stone is a dark
green jasper, with spots of red ; the sculpture presents Bacchus lifted by two satyrs who hold
his body, and by two boys who support his legs, that they may place him on the back of a goat,
his arms being around the necks of the satyrs ; he holds a crater in his right hand ; a Bacchante
goes before playing on a sort of tympanum; another on the right is playing with the double
tihia; another behind raises towards his head a cluster of grapes ; at thsir feet lie a prostrate
vase and a detruncated head, or more probably a mask j trees with thick foliage occupy the

> Winchtlniann, Histoire, &c. vol. ii. p. 112, 115; vol. iii. p. 372. 2 Montfavcon, Antiq. Expl. Sup. vol. i. p. 151.

§ 212. The most celebrated collections of ancient gems are the following:—
the Grand-duke's at Florence, which contains 3000; — those of the families of
Barberini and Odescalchi at Rome, the latter of which formerly belonged to
Christina queen of Sweden ; — the Royal Cabinet or Museum at Paris; — the col-
lection, formerly belonging to the Duke of Orleans, now at Petersburg; — some
private collections in London, particularly those of the Duke of Devonshire and
Count Carlisle; — the Imperial Cabinet at Vienna; — the collection of the King
of Prussia, of which the gems formerly belonging to Baron de Stosch form the
largest and most valuable part; — that of the King of Netherlands at Hague.

The collection of gems formerly belonging to Baron de Stosch is now in the Royal Museum at
Berlin (cf. $ 190. 3) . — The Royal Museum at N a p I e s, which is now enriched with the trea-
sures of several private collections, contains many precious stones, besides fine statues, bronze
figures, vases, and antiques in glass.

For the Museum at Naples, see Finati (and others). Real Museo Borbonica NapL 1824-33. 8 vols. 4.— £. Gerhard and

Th. Panofka, NeaplesAnlikeBildwerke; commenced 1828. Respecting the collections in England, see H^oagen, as cited § 190.4.

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