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Statuette - Seated infant

Seated infant

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)
    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    100 BC-200 CE (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gemstone: Translucent and pale brownish-grey chalcedony; on a bloodstone pedestal.

  • Museum number:

    260-1874

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a statuette perhaps made in the 1st century in Rome. The statuette is of translucent-greyish chalcedony and represents a miniature size child. The sculpture is set on a bloodstone pedestal.
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.

Physical description

Statuette of a naked seated infant. Translucent and pale brownish-grey chalcedony. The figure sits with its legs bent, the left one drawn up and lying out to the side. Its face is tilted up and back slightly, and its arms are raised, its right hand touching the side of its head. There is a band around its short, curly hair. The left arm is damaged and has substantial losses.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)
Italy (made)

Date

100 BC-200 CE (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gemstone: Translucent and pale brownish-grey chalcedony; on a bloodstone pedestal.

Dimensions

Width: 24.5 mm, Height: 32 mm Statuette only, Height: 55 mm Column and statuette together

Object history note

Bought from John Webb (1799-1880). Webb was a London dealer and collector who had a long and mutually fruitful relationship with the Museum. He advised on valuations and acted as agent on behalf of the Museum. From the 1850s until the late 1870s he sold numbers of highly important objects to the Museum, many of which are now among the 'star' objects of the collections. In 1867 he lent the Museum a large number of objects, including the present one (Loan no. 106), from his stock, charging a rental of 5% of their estimated value. Most of these objects had been purchased by the Museum by 1873, and 11 were gem-engravings acquired for what is now the Sculpture collection. On his death Webb left money to the Museum in the form of a trust fund to be used for the purchase of objects.

Descriptive line

Statuette, chalcedony, on a bloodstone pedestal, a seated infant, Italy, 100 BC-200 CE

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

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1874, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 20
Cf. Michael Padgett, J. A Chalcedony Statuette of Herakles. In: Record of the Art Museum Princeton University, 54. 1995, pp. 3-22

Production Note

Attribution note: The chalcedony is translucent and pale brownish-grey. Bloodstone is a variety of jasper (green with red flecks). J. Whalley, May 2009.

Materials

Chalcedony; Jasper; Bloodstone; Gemstone; Microquartz

Techniques

Gem engraving

Subjects depicted

Child

Categories

Sculpture; Children & Childhood; Gemstones

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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