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Abbaye de Beaufaye, Liège, Belgique, 1943.
Post Lot Text
A CARVED OVAL SARDONYX CAMEO HEAD OF SOCRATES
Partly bald, bearded, with drapery at the neck facing in profile to the right; in an oval gold mount applied to a banded agate ground, within a later gilt-bronze frame decorated with volutes and foliage, surmounted by confronted scrolls meeting at a scallop shell and acanthus leaves
This use of the white layer of the stone to contrast hair, beard and drapery with the brownish coloured skin demonstrates the skill of the Renaissance cameo cutter. For another example see I. Weber, Kostbare Steine, Die Gemmensammlung des Kurfürsten Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz (Munich, 1992, p.79, no. 25), and for the iconographical type of Socrates see R. Gennaioli, Le Gemme dei Medici al Museo degli Argenti (Florence, 2007, no. 181, by Ludovico Marmita). Gennaioli also records (no. 229) the purchase of 'un cameo con la testa di Socrate' by Eleanor, wife of Cosimo I, in 1556.