11⁄8 in. (2.8 cm.) wide
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965), Rome, acquired and brought to Switzerland, late 1930s; thence by continuous descent to the current owner.
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The ring has a flat, oval bezel with inward-sloping sides and pronounced shoulders tapering into the plan hoop, round in section. Set within the bezel is a convex sardonyx, the natural banding exploited so that the dark brown upper layer, with small red inclusions, is offset by a thin oval band in white.
The central brown layer is engraved with a Nereid riding a hippocamp across the rippling sea. The Nereid clings to the neck of the sea-horse, her mantle draped over her arm and flowing below her in broad u-shaped folds, and clinging tightly to her legs, exposing her sensuous torso. The hippocamp’s head is thrown back, with a fiery mane and coiled serpentine body, its tail rising up and projecting forward.
A Nereid riding a hippocamp was a popular subject on Greek and Roman gems. This example is noteworthy for its large size and the exceptional quality of the workmanship. The same composition is found on a sardonyx cameo in Naples, fig. 68 in C. Gasparri, Le gemme Farnese.