• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2057

    Ancient Jewelry

    9 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 330

    AN EARLY CHRISTIAN GLASS RINGSTONE

    CIRCA 3RD CENTURY A.D.

    Price Realised  

    AN EARLY CHRISTIAN GLASS RINGSTONE
    CIRCA 3RD CENTURY A.D.
    The flat oval transparent in color, imitating rock crystal, engraved with two fish flanking an anchor; mounted as a ring in a modern gold setting
    9/16 in. (1.4 cm.) long; ring size 4


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    For other gems with two fish flanking an anchor, some with accompanying inscriptions, see nos. 198-263 in Spier, Late Antique and Early Christian Gems. According to Spier (op. cit., p. 41) "The fish was one of the earliest and most frequently used Christian symbols, and one with many levels of significance. The vast variety of fish imagery in Near Eastern, Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian art provides an extraordinarily rich and complex array of meaning, much of which remains obscure. Already in Jewish tradition, the fish was a symbol of messianic aspirations. The numerous references to fish in the Gospels are all heavy with symbolic significance. The apostles were "fishers of men" (Mark 1:17); Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish (Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; 8:1-8); and the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and commands them to catch the one hundred and fifty-three fish (John 21:1-13). Although the fish served as a symbol of baptism and the Eucharist in early Christian iconography, it also referred to Christ himself, explicitly so in conjunction with the acrostic IX\KT\kYC. Clement's famous passage describing suitable images for finger rings includes both the fish and the fisherman. Although no explicit meaning was assigned to the fish, the fisherman was said to allude to the apostles in the sense of Mark 1:17."

    Provenance

    with Galerie de Serres, Paris, 1990s.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN SCHOLAR