C. W. (Charles William) King.

Handbook of engraved gems online

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In a few of these the inscription may be regarded as certainly, or at least
as probably, authentic. But taking into account the variation in the lettering,
as well as of the style of the intagli themselves, the only plausible solution of
the question is to regard the name, when antique, as that of various owners.
As in our days seals often bear only the first name of the possessor, the same
may have been the case with the private signets of antiquity ; and the
frequency of this signature be explained by the commonness of the name in
those times. [A probable explanation ; in the familiar epistles extant, per-
sons are generally designated by their prxnomiiia, as Marcus, Quintus, &c.]

AxEOOHUS. — Dancing Faun, wearing the lion's hide, and playing the lyre
in front of a cippus supporting a statue of the Infant Bacchus. In the exergue
ASE0X02 EII : ant. paste. (Strozzi, perhaps now in the Blacas Coll.) Kohler
is undecided as to the work, but condemns the inscription on account of the
orthographical errors, and the abbreviation of the verb. Dr. B. also discovers
something modern in the pose of the little figure, and in the movement of
the Satyr.

2. Head of Omphale : sard. Countess Cheroffini ; is dubious on account of
the repetition of a dubious signature, and the face is strikingly deficient in

3. Perseus mirroring Medusa's head upon a shield lying at his feet, on which
is cut the name ASEOX : sardonyx. De Thoms ; is equally suspicious with

4. A Bacchante, with thyrsus and vase, rushing forwards; paste; in the
same ill-famed collection.

5. Bcger's agate, with AZIOJ*! ; has nothing to do here, but belongs to the
Abraxas class.

Caius. See Gaioh.

Classicds.— Serapis on a throne. Crozat Cat. ; assigned by Clarac to an
artist, without any grounds.


Demetrius. — Hercules strangling a lion hung up to a tree : sard. (Mar. de

2. Bull : sard. (Schellersheim.) Both uncertain, if name of artist or of


DioKTsius. — Bacchante's head : quoted by De Murr.

Epitonos. — Venus Victrix leaning upon a cippus : very doubtful as belong-
ing to the De Thorns Coll.

EuEMEROS. — Mars in full armour, standing : sard. Quoted by Raspe as
belonging to the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel.

Gaios. — *The Sirius of the Marlborough Coll.

" A garnet on which the Head seen in front of a dog, Sirius or the Dogstar,
with the inscription TAIOZ €nOiei on the collar, is very deeply cut, and
which formerly belonged to Lord Bessborough and afterwards passed with the
rest of hia gems into the Marlborough Collection, belongs to the list of very
famous crems. This Head is so perfect and spirited a work that one is at a loss
what most to admire in it, whether the imitation of life here carried to the highest
point, or the extraordinary skill in the overcoming of all the difficulties, the
licking, tender flesh in the muzzle, the inside of the jaws, the teeth, the nose,
or the tongue that hangs out—' Ut fessi canes linguam ore de patulo potus
aviditate projiciens.' Raspe doubted as to the antiquity of this stone ; Natter
had practised his profession a considerable time in London, and to him has
this work been ascribed." Thus speaks Kohler, p. 158. But does this report
(which Murr expressly points out as resting upon an error) possess sufficient
weight that, upon the strength of it, we should forthwith " number amongst
those "ems in which both work and legend are modern," what Kohler himself
styles " a work so carefully finished that neither ancient nor modern times
have produced its equal " ? Nevertheless, Natter in the Bessborough Catalogue
calls the stone a Bohemian garnet ; a species, accoixiing to Kohler, not kno'mi
to the ancient gem-engravers. On the other hand, Clarac, I know not on what
authority, calls it a Syrian garnet. [It is actually an Oriental garnet of the
finest quality, which might be taken for a spinel] Natter, it is true, openly
acknowledges that he did occasionally put Greek names upon his own works,
yet does he as distinctly deny that he ever passed them off for antiques. But
the gem in question he calls Greek, and only professes (p. 27) to have copied
it with some success. Finally, as to what concerns the name which Kohler
stigmatises as not happily chosen, because thereby a Boman engraver— Caius

appears upon the scene, on this very account would a forger have made a

more " happy " choice of a designation. The name, however, in itself, is not
liable to the objection that we hereafter are obliged to make good against the
names " Quintus " and " Aulus : " as the example of the jurist Gains can
sufficiently prove. In addition to this, it cannot be proved in a single case that
gems with the name of Gaios were known earlier than our Sirius. Upon the
Berlin obsidian (to be next described) even Winckelmann had overlooked the
inscription. Therefore it seems to me that as yet no sufficiently valid reasons
have been adduced for its suspiciousness, although the full certainty of its
genuineness can only be attained by a repeated examination of the original,
which now probably is to be found in the Blacas Cabinet. [No ; still in the
Marlborough. But, after repeated examination, I fear this noble piece must


be given to some great artist of the Cinque-cento ; the work displaying none
of the hieratic stiffness ever characterising this head of the Egyi'tian Solar
Lion, Sirius-Sottf/i/s, not uncommon in garnets of Hadrian's time. But — the
point of most weight with me — the surface shows none of the wear of time
that bites ever so deeply into the antique stone ; and here this has cer-
tainly not been rectified by modern repolishing.]

2. Silenus seated on a hide, holding in each hand a flute: obsidian.*
(Berlin.) Work but middling, not to be compared to the first ; the name here,
therefore, probably designates the owner.

3. Nemesis : only known by a cast of Stosch's.

4. Copy of this : sard. Baron Roger : and in the same collection.

5. Silenus : jacinth ; after the Berlin obsidian.

Gnaios. — Head of Youthful Hercules ; below the neck FNAIOS : bluish
aquamarine. (Strozzi, now Blacas.) Published by Faber as the signet of Gn.
Pompey.f " The signature belongs to the best authenticated that we have, and
we can prove beforehand that it cannot designate an artist, since the work of
the head is of that fine quality that would justify the engraver in putting his
name to it." So speaks the paradoxical Kohler.

*2. Athlete anointing himself. Published by Venuti in 1736, and then in
Apostolo Zeno's Coll., afterwards in Stosch's, who sold it to Lord Bessborough.
The gem was rejected by Vettori from his list of artists, whether on account of
his doubting the gem itself, or merely the form of the signature. Kohler says
" that Natter praises the stone so highly, that he may be suspected of being
the author of it. Natter calls the stone an Oriental hyacinth (jacinth),
possessing the colour of a Bohemian garnet, and notices also that the surface
is flat : a convincing proof that it is modern, as all antique jacinths are cut en
cabochonP [This criticism is based on an error : the stone is a superb ^as^e,
resembling indeed a dark jacinth wdacn looked down upon, but exhibiting the
true sard colour when viewed by transmitted light. A testimony this to
Natter's honesty : had he been its engraver, he had certainly discovered the real
nature of the jiiece. Dr. B. considers the work as but of insignificant merit,
and points out the little skill shown in the employment of the field : certainly
the large empty space left above the table has a very awkward effect; the
original work, however, of the intaglio has been excellent in the Roman style,
but has its outlines now destroyed by the repolishing of the surface, which
must have been done before Natter described it.] %

3. Bust of a Queen, with the sceptre on her shoulder : sard. (Reicher Coll.)
Called a Cleopatra or a Juno. Kohler only rejects the legend, and praises the
intaglio as tender, tasteful, and finished; but Dr, B. suspects the style of the

* Obsidian probably means here a black paste, so termed pedantically by the
catalogue-makers of the last century, from a misunderstanding of Pliny's description of
the actual stone, which was mistaken by them for an artificial production. In the
Marlborough Catalogue, Obsidian is always employed to designate the antique pastes
of a dark colour.

t And with good foundation: the name proves it to have belonged to his clan.

X The original of this beautiful paste is a dull sardoiuo, also in the same cabinet ;
nnless indeed the latter be a copij froui it.


drawing, and the modern character of the attributes. " Though the features
are pure, there is no life in the expression ; the hair, too, on the brow is
worked in a manner not seen in the antique."

4. Juno Lanuvina, or Theseus. (Beverley.) Bracci says the name was
put in by Pichler : the whole, doubtless, modern.

5. Rape of the Palladium : TNAIOY in the exergue ; present owner un-
known. [This must be the Devonshire gem, a large black and white banded
agate.] Pronoimced by J. Pichler antique, but doubted by Kohler; and Dr.
B. censures a softness in the contour of the body, and the expression of the
head not suited to the character of Diomede. The design agrees with that by

6. An Apoxyomenos : sard of mediocre work, TNAOY behind the figure.
The name judged a modern addition by Pichler.

7. Head of Pallas, or Alexander, a Pegasus on the helmet : Mead's Museum.
Raspe takes for a work of Costanzi's.

8. Head of Hercules : chalcedony ; seems the gem mentioned by Natter as a
copy by Costanzi of the Strozzi.

9. Muse, a bust, in front a mask on a cippus, the name behind the head.
(De la Turbie.) Considered by Visconti as worthy of the artist, but suspected
by Clarac, chiefly on account of the cabinet it belonged to. Dr. B. observes
that the signature is clumsy and defective.

10. Alcajus, a head. (Lippert.)

11. A Theseus, perhaps identical with Easpe's Antinous.

12. Brutus. (Lippert.)
To these may be added : —

1. A Sister of Caligula's, a Head: sard; quoted by Tolken. The face
exhibits traces of the modern " elegance, and is somewhat squat, and the like-
ness far from certain."

2. Horseman spearing a boar or bear, a reclining Faun holding a thyrsus :
nicolo, Naples ; very dubious.

3. Head of Mercury : PuUini, Turin ; quoted by Dubois.

4. Horse's Head : fragment. (Formerly Marquis de Dree's.) Several copies
of the Strozzi Hercules, of the Marlborough Athlete, and of the Apoxyomenos
are known. f

Hellen. — Bust of Antinous as Harpocrates : sard. (Orleans, now St.
Petersburg.) First published by Fulvius Ursinus, as Hellen, the founder of
the Hellenic race. The work praised by Kohler as of the finest antique stamp
and finished with inconceivable delicacy ; but the name he absurdly supposes
" an addition of F. Ursinus." Though the name be genuine, yet Tolken
thinks it probably indicates the owner, some Hellenios or Hellenicos.J

* Mme. Mertens iiad added to the Praun Collection, as a genuine antique, another
equally exact replica of this subject, but without any signature. The work is of
some merit, but the stone — a common carnelian — and the intact surface make its
authenticity to me extremely questionable.

t To these may be added: *Omphale, a beautiful head covered with the lion's skin,
but much of a modern style. (Marlborough.)

X In fact, I strongly suspect EAAHN in its origin to be but the signature of the
famous Alessandro B Greco; a most natural disguise for that artist to have assumed.


2. Mask: Blacas, from the De la Turbie Coll., and therefore extremely
dubious until further examined.

3. Head of a young Satyr crowned with vine-leaves : beneath, EAAHNOY.
Tolkeu calls this " unmistakably moderu, and copied from the chubby Bac-
chus-heads on tavern-signs, but the execution shows a master's hand." [The
blunder in the name also is unpardonable.]*

Kronios. — Terpsichore, standing, and resting her lyre on a cippus : sus-
pected by Bracci to be done by Sirletti, But Andreini had only the cast
(published by Gori) which he had obtained fifty years before from a good
engraver in the Medicean Academy, II Borgognone. The gem not now

2. Jupiter caressing his Eagle: cameo. (Old Poniatowsky Coll.) Sus-
picious for the false reading KPQMOY.

3. Perseus with the Medusa's Head. KPiiNIOY : sard. (Devonshire.)
Known to be modern. [One in the Marlborough ; probably that here cited as
the Devonshire, a feeble modern intaglio.]

Lucius. — Victory driving a biga at full speed : sard. (Count Wassenaer.)
The work pleasing, but slight, and not of sufficient importance to presuppose
the artist's signature. The name AEYKIOY placed in the middle of the
exergue with a certain nice regularity, and without any reference to the
design. Finally, the hair-lines of the lettering do not correspond with those
employed in the engraving itself, the whip, or wheel-spokes ; and therefore
Dr. B. considers the name an addition, though put in (for the owner's) in
ancient times.

2. Bust of young Satyr, ivy-crowned. Kohler calls a work without the
least taste, that Lippert ought to have been ashamed to admit into his series.

3. Bearded Satyr, mask, of which Raspe notices three repetitions : reading
AOYKTEY and AOYKTEI, which probably have nothing to do with Lucius.
[The Marl, gem reads clearly AOYKTEIOY, "Lucteius;" but the position
marks it the possessor's name : this stone, at least, is antique.]!

4. Poppaja, signed AEY. Raspe, where no one suspects an artist.
MiDiAS. — Gryphon trampling on a Serpent: cameo, MIAIOY incised.

Paris. The stone burnt, and broken, so that the name may be part of
AIMIAIOY, which does occiu: on the same subject in Cades ; but the original

Myrton. — Nymph with floating veil borne upon the back of a swan with
spread wings, under one of which the name MYPTflN : formerly in the

This theory is supported by the Omphale in the spoils of Hercules : the name, cut in
the field in minute letters, seems as antique as the rest of the surface. The intaglio
is in a bold, well-finished style, but clearly Cinque-cento. Sard. (My collection.)

* A magnificent head in front face, most deeply cut, of a Bacchante ; EAAHN in
the field in extremely fine letters in Pichler's taste. The intaglio itself seems Greek
of the best age ; but the stone — a pale Balais of large size — and its recent surface are
grounds for reasonable doubt. Left by L. Fould to Baron Roger I'ainc^.

t It is figured No. .'306 in Gorlwi Dactyliotheca (ed. IGOf)), and thence came into
the Bessborough Cabinet.


Strozzi Coll. Stephani allows the name to be genuine from its evident con-
nexion with the design, but supposes it to indicate Myrto, Pindar's mother ;
or else the Eulffian nymph. Dr. B. thinks the work not sufficiently important
to bear an actual artist's signature : the name besides exceeds the measure
allotted to such, and is more than an accessory, seeming to indicate either
subject or owner : the reading, besides, is not quite certain.

Onesimus, — Jove standing holding a sceptre, parallel to which runs the
name : sard. (Bar. Hoorn.) Uncertain.

2. Pallas, Helmeted Head : Easpe. Confessedly modern.

Pebgamos. — Satyr dancing, in his right the thyrsus, in the left a cantharus :
paste. (Florence.) The name in the field in front of the knee was read
OEirMQ, or nyrMQN, or nEMAAIO. Kohler judges from the sharp-
ness of the letters that they are a recent addition to the antique paste. But
Dr. B. observes that the inscription already existed in Agostini's time, and
that, far from being recent in appearance, it has suffered corrosion equally
with the rest of the surface. Hence the sole reason for not admitting Perga-
mos into the list of artists is the uncertainty as to the real name.

2. Other gems with this legend, where it evidently refers to the hero Per-
gamus, thereon represented.

3. Hercules carrying the Bull. (Stosch.) The name modem.
Phabnaces. — Hippocampus; in the exergue *PAPNAKHC .^q^j.^^ (Farnese

Coll., Naples.) The cutting of the letters not in character with the style of
the design, which is allowed by Stephani to be antique, though but mediocre.
The legend therefore must be considered suspicious,

2. Capricorn and a Trident : the name awkwardly inserted between him
and the waves : amethyst. (De Thoms.) The name probably taken from the
Farnese gem.

3. Same subject : Poquel. (Paris.) Quoted by Dubois.*

4. Lion passant : sard. (Greville, now Beverley.) Name in the exergue.
Stephani ventures upon no decision here.

5. Cupid riding on a lion : sard. (Cades.) The figure, though small, is
done with cleverness and a sort of negligence, and may be antique. But
in both the last, the letters are cut harshly, are furnished with dots, and
proceed clearly from a modern hand ; being too conspicuous for the small-
ness of the stones.

6. Nemesis holding a bridle ; Millin : very dubious — from that attribute of
the goddess, only seen in late works.

7. Wild Boar, *AP : sard. (St. Petersburg.) Name contracted.

8. Mercury, a Head : jasper ; similarly uncertain. — Fragment of a Satyr.

* Female panther passant, of the finest work ; in the exergue 4>APNAKOT. Sard.
Unquestionably antique ; formerly Lord Cawdor's, now Rhodes'. Where the signature
is actually genuine, there is good reason to believe such gems were signets of
some of the Asiatic princes bearing this name. The Bacchic panther is a rebus
upon it, Pharnaces being, as Ausonius tells us, the Mysian name for Bacchus.
By the same analogy Pharnaces II, took for reverse of his gold medals the figure
of Dionysos -Helios.


. . KHC : Princess Gagarin ; dnbious, if it can be referred to this name.
Though the signature upon one or two of the above may be genuine, yet
none disj^lay any striking merit. The various forgeries prove that the sup-
posed artist was considered eminent in the representation of animals. Ste-
phani regards the Greville gems as the starting-point Avhence all the rest

Philemon. — Theseus and the slain Minotaur : sardonyx. (Vienna.) A bad
stone of two layers ; but the work, according to Kohlcr, of a good modern
hand. Stephani reckons it amongst the suspicious, and says the legend has
much more of the modern about it than of the antique. [An exact replica of
this, but without signature, a modern cameo admirably done, in the Marl. Coll.]

2. Bust of an ivy-crowned laughing Satyr : behind the head khoI *
paste. (Strozzi.) Kohler says, " Nothing could be more convenient at the
time of forging artists' names than to get an antique paste and to ennoble it
by the insertion of a few letters : in this case they bear no analogy whatever to
the style of the work."

3. Hercules binding Cerberus: amethyst. (St. Petersburg.) Kohler
calls modern, but of good work.

4. Bull's Head. (Bracci and Cades.)

5. Hercules strangling the Lion : onyx-cameo. (Clanbrasil.) Is known to
be from the hand of Ant. Pichlor.

[6. Head of Berenice ; her hair, bound with a fillet, falls down in numerous
curls: in the field behind, <t>IAHMONOC. A modem intaglio, but of the
highest merit ; formerly Hertz's.]

Phocas. — Athlete standing, holding a palm, and touching the fillet around
his head : jacinth. Bracci thinks does not refer to the artist. Probably this
is the true reading of *QIAA on a Bacchante sard. (Schellersheim.)

Plato. — Charioteer ckiving his team : not the artist's name.

PoLYCLEiTus. — Kape of the Palladium. The stone broken on one side.
Formerly Andreini's : condemned by Kohler ; and doubted by Levezow.
Subject and name are both against its being genuine.

Saturnius. — Antonia, wife of Drusus : cameo ; the name behind the head
incised : formerly Caroline Murat's, afterwards Seguin's. Stephani allows the
work to be excellent, but the drapery probably retouched : only the inscrip-
tion forged, as being incised. Dr. E., too, thinks the field there has the
appearance of having been smoothed recently for the reception of the name.

2. The Dioscuri ; between them the head of Jupiter Ammon. (Thorwald-
sen Museum.) The name CATOPNGINOC certainly has nothing to do with
an artist's.

Severus. — Hygeia giving the serpent to drink : jjlasma: Slade. n.CG.-
YHP.Y on a little shield in relief.

Skopas. — Gems bearing upon them this name are so little known, and
have not been ever critically examined, that nothing certain can be advanced
as to their authenticity : they arc —

1. Head of Apollo Citharoedus : sard. (Formerly Sellari's.)

2. Caligula, or L. Caesar: sard. (Leipsic Mus.) But Visconti doubts the
legend, and Dr. B. objects to the weak, modern style of the work.


3. Bearded Head: sard. (Count Butterlin.) Called by Lippert a Zeno ; by
Raspe, an Epicurus.

4. Naked female by a vase, as if anointing herself. (Caylus.) The lines
of the form very harsh, and can be hardly antique.

5. CEdipus and the Sphinx : SKOIIA EII. (Raspe.) Very suspicious from
the abbreviation of the verb. This signature, so variously written, sometimes
with round, sometimes with angular letters, in the nom. and in the gen. case,
creates a very unfavourable impression as to its genuineness. And if antique
in one or two cases, the exact signification must be ascertained before Scopas
can be admitted into the list of engravers.

ScYLAX. — Mask of Pan nearly front-face : amethyst. (Strozzi, now Blacas.)
Kohler says, " This mask is, both for the invention and extremely spirited
execution, one of the greatest masterpieces of antique art." The name is
genuine, not cut in delicate minute letters, but in a bold style to indicate the
owner. This is the source whence the forgers have got the name to put upon
so many of their modern gems.

2. Sirius, the entire fore-part of his body, with the paws as it were swim-
ming through the air; in the field, CKYAAZ : yellow topaz, much larger
than the Marl. Sirius. (Old Poniatowsky Coll.) As Natter owns to having
copied the latter, this topaz may be assigned to him in Kohler's opinion.*

3. Satyr playing the flute : onyx ; Cades ; is a pretty work, but bears no
decided stamp of antiquity.

4. Another Satyr agreeing in design with that of Pergamos ; also on onyx ;
Cades ; the manner very pointed and studied.

5. Cameo, Hercules seated playing the lyi-e, his weapons leant against a
rock behind him ; CKYAAKOC incised in the exergue. (Formerly Tiepolo's,
now Bar. Roger's.) Dr. B. doubts the work, and takes it for a copy from a
small cameo in the Beverley Coll. unsigned, and figured by Enea Vico.

6. Eagle's Head; to the right, CKYAAKOC, reading towards the neck :
sard. (Formerly Algernon Percy's, now St. Petersburg.)

7. Another, to the right, and legend turned towards the border : sard.
(Cades.) The letters quite bungled. .,

8. C. Antistius Restio, Head : sard. (Marlborough.) [A mediocre modern

Dubois notices in Bar. Roger's Coll., as doubtful —

1. Head of a Bald Man : garnet.

2. Man standing holding a bow : sard.

3. Satyr's mask : sard. De Murr mentions a small sardonyx (St. Peters-
burg), a giant drawing a gryphon out of his den, with the legend SKYAAg EH
or 2KYAAKI02. None of these inscriptions being entirely trustworthy, we
must allow their full weight to Kohler's critique upon the Strozzi amethyst ;
and decide that the existence of an artist Scylax is in the highest deoree

SosocLES. — Medusa's Head, CCOCOCA in front of the neck : chalcedony.
(Carlisle, now Blacas.) Kohler condemns the gem as " a stone never employed

* If antique, we should have here another I'cbus on the owner's name — 2/ci/Ao^, a


by the ancients ; its origin too is betrayed by its uncommon harshness and the
want of taste in the rendering of the hair ; tlie bkmders in the name could
not have been made in ancient times." Visconti proposes Sosthenes as the
correct reading ; Dr. B., more plausibly, Sosus. The gem was published in
the seventeenth century, by Stefanoni and by Licetus.

2. Copy by Natter for Hemsterhuis ; in the Hague Coll.

3. Junius Brutus : sardonyx. (Aldborough.) The name CCOCOKA proves
this to be a forgery.

SoSTRATUS. — Cameo, Victory leading the horses of a biga. (Once L. del
Medici's ; now Farnese, Naples.) In the field above, COCTPATOY ; between
the horses' feet, LAVR. MED. The work allowed antique by Kohler and
Stephani ; but the inscription pronounced an addition in the taste of the

Online LibraryC. W. (Charles William) KingHandbook of engraved gems → online text (page 29 of 32)