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RJ1312

A Roman Sard Gemstone Intaglio of Dionysus, ca. 1st century AD

This engraved gem of red jasper (sard) portrays a male figure standing with his right elbow resting on a low column.  He holds a thyrsus with streamers in his right hand, and his extended left holds a kantharos. His head is adorned with a crown of ivy and a mantle is wrapped around his left leg.  At his feet stands his graceful but savage companion animal, the panther.  These attributes are often associated with the god, Dionysus, known to the Romans as Bacchus, god of fertility and wine.

This intaglio style is known from a number of examples, perhaps the closest parallels are at the Getty (Jeffrey Spier,   Ancient Gems and Finger Rings: Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum (Getty Museum) Fig. 260) and the Met as part of the Cesnola collection (Gisela Marie Augusta Richter,  Catalogue of engraved gems of the classical style, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, N.Y.,) 107 no.162); both gems show Dionysus standing, holding a thyrsus and kantharos, with a panther at his feet.

Condition:   Some minor chips to the edge that do not detract, otherwise intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions:   Height: 1.5 cm

Provenance:  Private New York collection, acquired from the NY trade in the late 1970's.

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