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Intaglio - Griffins

Griffins

  • Object:

    Intaglio

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    17th century (made)
    19th century (alteration)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved bloodstone in nineteenth century gold ring

  • Museum number:

    735-1871

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an intaglio made in 17th century France. The intaglio is carved in bloodstone, depicting a griffin rampant within an ornamental border (the arms of Berthelaz?) in a modern gold ring setting with a large oval bezel.
The art of engraving gemstones can be traced back to ancient Greece in the 8th century BC and earlier. Techniques passed down to the Egyptians and then to the Romans. There were major revivals of interest in engraved gems in Europe during the Byzantine era, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. At each stage cameos and intaglios, these skillful carvings on a minute scale, were much prized and collected, sometimes as symbols of power mounted in jewelled settings, sometimes as small objects for private devotion or enjoyment.
Many gems were carved in the neo-classical style popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when taste in the arts echoed the subject matter and style of the Greek and Roman masters. Thousands of gems were made in this style in Italy and brought back by British Grand Tourists, who went there to visit the newly-discovered classical antiquities and archaeological sites.

Physical description

Carved bloodstone intaglio depicting a griffin rampant within an ornamental border (the arms of Berthelaz?) in a modern gold ring setting with a large oval bezel

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

17th century (made)
19th century (alteration)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved bloodstone in nineteenth century gold ring

Marks and inscriptions

a griffin rampant within an ornamental border
Possibly the arms of Berthelaz

Dimensions

Height: 19 mm, Width: 14.5 mm

Object history note

Bought in 1871.
Ex Waterton Collection. Bought by the Museum following inclusion in Christie's sale. Edmund Waterton (1830-87) is referred to as one of a group of 'pioneer collectors' by Diana Scarisbrick, 'C.D.E. Fortnum as a collector of rings and gems', C.D.E. Fortnum and the collecting and study of applied arts and sculpture in Victorian England, Ed: Ben Thomas and Timothy Wilson, 1999. His collection of approximately 760 rings, formed with the aim of illustrating the history of rings of all period and types, was acquired by the Museum in 1871 and 1899. Waterton, in 1868 'of Walton Castle, near Wakefield, in the county of York, but now residing at Ostend in the Kingdom of Belgium', got into financial difficulties, and was later to be declared bankrupt. The collection of rings was held as security against a loan by the jeweller Robert Phillips for two years from March of that year. The loan was to be repaid by Waterton by March 1870, but the deadline was not met. Phillips having first contacted the Museum regarding the possible purchase of the rings in 1869, the purchase was recommended by the Board of the Museum in a minute of 20 April 1871. The majority of the rings are held in Metalwork Section, a small number in Sculpture Section.

Descriptive line

Intaglio, carved bloodstone set in a modern gold ring, depicting a griffin rampant (the arms of Berthelaz?), France, 17th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1871, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 59

Production Note

17th century French intaglio in a 19th century setting

Materials

Bloodstone; Gold

Subjects depicted

Griffins

Categories

Jewellery; Sculpture; Gemstones

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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