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HOME : Intaglio Jewelry : Archive : Roman Agate Intaglio Depicting a Nymph
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Roman Agate Intaglio Depicting a Nymph - FJ.5979
Origin: Israel
Circa: 1 st Century AD to 3 rd Century AD

Collection: Roman Seal Rings/ Intaglios
Medium: Agate/Gold

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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The art of glyptic, or carving on colored precious stones, is probably one of the oldest known to humanity. Intaglios, gems with an incised design, were made as early as the fourth and third millennia B.C. in Mesopotamia and the Aegean Islands. They display a virtuosity of execution that suggests an old and stable tradition rooted in the earliest centuries. The tools required for carving gems were simple: a wheel with a belt- drive and set of drills. Abrasives were necessary since the minerals used were too hard for a metal edge. A special difficulty of engraving, aside from their miniature size, was that the master had to work with a mirror image in mind. In Imperial Rome, members of the royal court and nobility often wore portraits of the emperor engraved on gems. Such tokens identified the political allegiance of the wearer and were sometimes given by the ruler as marks of special favor. This lovely intaglio shows a beautiful naked woman arranging her hair while looking into a mirror. The exquisite pale yellow of the agate is like sunlight, bathing the woman with its warmth while she grooms herself. She may be a woodland nymph, one of the followers of Artemis; or simply a girl enjoying a moment alone, brushing her luxurious long hair. It is interesting to note that in Etruscan and Roman times mirrors were engraved on the reverse side with mythological scenes. This beautiful intaglio certainly reflects an age of elegance when the wealthy knew how to live well and wear gorgeous jewelry; just as the person today who chooses to wear something so unique as this exquisite ring. - (FJ.5979)


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