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A ROMAN CARNELIAN INTAGLIO OF MARS
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.
1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) high
Provenance
Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel (1586-1646), Arundel House, London; thence by descent to his wife, Aletheia Talbot Howard (1585-1654), Arundel House, London; thence by gift to her son, Henry Frederick Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel (1608-1652), Arundel House, London; thence by descent to his son, Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk (1628-1684), Arundel House, London; thence by descent to his widow, Jane Bickerton Howard (1643-1693), Arundel House, London.
Henry Mordant, 2nd Earl of Peterborough (1621-1697), Drayton House, Northamptonshire, acquired from the above, circa 1690; thence by descent to his daughter, Lady Mary Mordant (1659-1705), Drayton House, Northamptonshire; thence by descent to her second husband, Sir John Germain (1650-1718), Drayton House, Northamptonshire; thence by descent to his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Germain (1680-1769), Knole House, Kent; thence by descent to her great-niece, Mary Beauclerk (1743-1812) on the occasion of her marriage to Lord Charles Spencer (1740-1820), 1762.
George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, acquired from the above, circa 1765; thence by descent to his son, George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; thence by descent to his son, George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough (1793–1857), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; thence by descent to his son, John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
The Marlborough Gems: Being a Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by George, Third Duke of Marlborough, Christie's, London, 28 June-1 July 1875, lot 109.
David Bromilow (1809-1898), Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire, acquired from the above; thence by descent to his daughter, Julia Harriet Mary Jary, Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire, 1898.
The Marlborough Gems: A Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by George, Third Duke of Marlborough, Purchased by the Late David Bromilow, Esq., of Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth, the Property of Mrs. Jary, Christie's, London, 26-29 June 1899, lot 109.
with Francis E. Whelan (1848-1907), London, acquired from the above (according to auctioneer's book).
Charles Newton-Robinson (1853-1913), London.
Catalogue of the Valuable and Important Collection of Engraved Gems Formed by Charles Newton-Robinson Esq.; Christie's, London, 22 June 1909, lot 71.
with Spink, London, acquired from the above (according to auctioneer's book).
Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886-1965), Rome, acquired and brought to Switzerland, late 1930s; thence by continuous descent to the current owners.
Literature
18th century manuscript of the Arundel Collection, no. E 26, as "Martis paciferi imago."
A. Fountaine, The Arundel Cabinet, London, 1731, p. 9, no. E 26.
M.H. Story-Maskelyne, The Marlborough Gems: Being a Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by George, Third Duke of Marlborough, 1870, p. 19, no. 109.
Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition of Ancient Greek Art, London, 1904, p. 221, no. 176, pl. CX.
J. Boardman, et al., The Marlborough Gems, Formerly at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, London, 2009, p. 82, no. 124.
J. Boardman and C. Wagner, Masterpieces in Miniature: Engraved Gems from Prehistory to the Present, London, 2018, p. 129, no. 117.
Beazley Archive Gem Database no. 124.
Exhibited
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of Ancient Greek Art, 1904.

Lot Essay

This large intaglio depicts a bust of Mars wearing a crested helmet and a mantle draped over his shoulders. Boardman and Wagner (op. cit., p. 129) note that the features of the god, with his somber expression and quiet nobility, are reminiscent of the so-called Ares Borghese, a Roman creation inspired by earlier Greek types and which conforms to the classicizing tendencies popular during the Augustan era (see no. 21 in E. Simon and G. Bauchhenss, "Ares/Mars," in LIMC, vol. II). The subject was popular on coins and gems (see the glass example in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, no. 192 in Simon and Bauchhenss, op. cit.). The large scale of the gem presented here suggests that it was perhaps worn exclusively as a pendant in antiquity and did not serve a sphragistic function.

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