AN ITALIC MOTTLED JASPER RINGSTONE WITH A SACRIFICE SCENE
AN ITALIC MOTTLED JASPER RINGSTONE WITH A SACRIFICE SCENE
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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR. CORINNE BRONFMAN
AN ITALIC MOTTLED JASPER RINGSTONE WITH A SACRIFICE SCENE

CIRCA 3RD CENTURY B.C.

Details
AN ITALIC MOTTLED JASPER RINGSTONE WITH A SACRIFICE SCENE
CIRCA 3RD CENTURY B.C.
13⁄16 in. (1.9 cm.) long; ring size 7
Provenance
Rev. G. Rhodes Collection, circa 1870s.
M.H. Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823-1911), Wroughton, Wiltshire; thence by descent to his son-in-law, William Arnold-Forster (1886-1951), Cornwall.
Catalogue of the Story-Maskelyne Collection of Ancient Gems, the Property of W.E. Arnold Forster, Esq., Sotheby's, London, 4-5 July 1921, lot 76.
Landsberg, acquired from the above (according to auctioneer's book).
Marjorie Bronfman (1917-2012), Montreal, acquired by 1978; gifted to her daughter, Dr. Corinne Bronfman (1947-2022), Washington, D.C.; thence by descent to the current owner.
Literature
A. Furtwängler, Die Antiken Gemmen: Geschichte der Steinschneidekunst im Klassischen Altertum, Leipzig und Berlin, 1900, vol. 1, pl. XXII, no. 57; vol. 2, p. 111, no. 57.

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Hannah Fox Solomon
Hannah Fox Solomon Head of Department, Specialist

Lot Essay

This unusual gem features two warriors, a priest and a bull standing around a circular altar. The warrior at the center stands alongside the bull, wearing a tunic, holding a circular shield with a bird as the blazon, and holding a patera out above the altar. Behind him stands a second warrior, wearing a crested helmet and holding a circular shield with a star as the blazon. The priest stands before them, wearing a long tunic, with the bull’s head in profile at his shoulders. The scene is enclosed within a hatched border. The ritual depicted is the Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring” in Latin), practiced by Italic peoples, and may be related to rituals performed by soldiers in advance of going into battle during the Second Punic War (see C. Weiß, Die antiken Gemmen der Sammlung Heinrich Dressel in der Antikensammlung Berlin, no. 321). The gem is mounted as a ring in a 19th century gold setting; the interior of the hoop is incised with the number 76, which corresponds with the lot number in the Story-Maskelyne auction. For two other Italic gems with similar sacrifice scenes, perhaps by the same hand, see Furtwängler, op. cit., pl. XXII, nos. 55-56.

As D. Scarisbrick explains (“English collectors of engraved gems: aristocrats, antiquaries and aesthetes,” in M. Henig, et al., Classical Gems: Ancient and Modern Itaglios in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, p. xx, n. 97), the dealer Eastwood sold the major part of the Mertens-Schaaffhausen collection, which included the earlier collection of Paulus von Praun, to the Reverend Gregory Rhodes in 1859. It is not clear if this gem was in Praun or Mertens-Schaaffhausen collections, but J.D. Beazley makes clear in his catalog entry for Story-Maskelyne that it was “from the Rhodes collection.”

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