Sale 19618
Masterpieces in Miniature: Ancient Engraved Gems formerly in the G. Sangiorgi Collection Part II
Online 2 - 16 June 2020


Engraved on this long flat oval stone is a sensual Apollo with his lyre. The god is depicted frontally, standing on a short groundline, nude but for a mantle draped around his legs and forearm. He holds the instrument in one hand, which rests atop a small female statue depicted in profile, holding a phiale in her hands. His other arm is bent over his head, a plectrum in his hand, stabilizing the instrument. The soundbox of the lyre is ornamented with a profile mask, its mouth open, with drapery from Apollo’s mantle extending below. The stone is mounted as a swivel ring in an 18th/19th century gold setting.
This Apollo is a version of a well-known statue type of the Hellenistic period, the most famous of which is the example from Cyrene, now in the British Museum (fig. 679 in M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age). The gem differs from the marble statue in terms of the instrument, a lyre instead of a kithara, and also by the presence of the small female statue as the support. For a carnelian ringstone with the same combination of details, although with a less well-defined soundbox mask, see the example in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 72 in G.M.A. Richter, Engraved Gems of the Romans.

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